3 years ago

Enhancing planned and associated biodiversity in French farming systems

Florian Celette, Arthur Lenoir, Christophe Naudin, Ali Siah, Lionel Alletto, Marion Casagrande

Abstract

In a context of global change involving uncertainty in agricultural production, agroecological systems need to reduce their dependency on inputs and increase their resilience. Biodiversity-based techniques are promising, as they provide production services based on biological processes. Tracking farmer practices is an original approach aiming at identifying and analysing alternative systems and supporting the development of these techniques. We studied, for the first time, the on-farm implementation of six biodiversity-based techniques: (i) agroecological infrastructures, (ii) cropped varietal mixtures, (iii) agroforestry, (iv) intercropping, (v) cover cropping and (vi) crop rotation diversification. We first analysed the combinations of these techniques in a large sample of 194 French farmers. A multiple correspondence analysis followed by a hierarchical cluster analysis on principal components resulted in groups of farms with different combinations of these techniques. Then, deeper interviews were conducted with 29 farmers across three regions to analyse the various methods of applying the techniques in the context of their farm and to identify the conditions for their successful implementation. Taking advantage of this large and rare sample of almost 200 interviewed farmers, we identified six different groups of farms. From farms applying mainly cover cropping to comply with European regulations to much diversified farms implying the redesign of the farming system, we support the idea that different strategies of implementation of such biodiversity-based techniques co-exist. The in-depth interviews demonstrated that the level of diversification is related to farm characteristics and four factors mainly favoured the development of such techniques on farms: (1) available labour force and (2) specialised machinery (internal factors) as well as (3) access to market opportunities and (4) the exchange of knowledge through networking (external factors). Surprisingly, the conservation agriculture farmers of our sample did not apply significantly more biodiversity-based techniques. However, our results indicated that organic farmers applied significantly more of these techniques. Our results suggest that enhancing knowledge exchange through networks would favour the broader application of such techniques. It could also be relevant to gather farmers, industries and public authorities to favour the emergence of market opportunities.

Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13593-017-0463-5

DOI: 10.1007/s13593-017-0463-5

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