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Challenges of complying with both food value chain specifications and agroecology principles in vegetable crop protection

Abstract : To meet the challenges of sustainability in agricultural system design, reducing the dependency on synthetic plant protection products has become a core issue. There are currently two major reasons for farmers' decision to reduce their use of synthetic products: public policies, and the extralegal requirements of food supply chains. To reduce or eliminate synthetic plant protection products, agroecological crop protection (ACP) relying on the development of agroecology science and practices is a promising holistic approach focused on crop health overall. ACP requires a consistent combination of various agronomic practices at different spatiotemporal and trophic levels. Vegetable crops are minor crops facing the major challenges of producing high-quality produce and of controlling sanitary pressure on yields. Thus, agroecological vegetable systems must not only be adapted to official regulations and environmental parameters but must also comply with the specifications of the targeted food value chains (FVC), which are variable: marketing standards regarding cosmetic issues are very strict in long value chains, whereas they are more flexible in local short chains. Whereas fresh vegetable production is strongly challenged by the reduction of synthetic plant protection products, there are few studies that show how to design, manage and assess agroecological crop protection strategies for such systems, considering the main specifications and criteria of the FVC as a whole. This article reports on the challenges of complying with both FVC specifications and agroecology principles in protected vegetable crop protection. This study relies on four cropping systems implemented in an experimental station for 4.5 years, each of which had a specific strategy of crop protection management and was devoted to a particular FVC. The four FVCs are "local direct sale in lowpesticide farming", "local direct sale in organic farming", "super- and hypermarket value chain in low-pesticide farming" and "super- and hypermarkets value chain in organic farming". Results consist in the description of combination of agronomic practices used, as well as the corresponding decision-making processes. They then present the performance of the four systems tested, showing that agroecological crop protection strategies are successful in reducing or eliminating synthetic plant protection products. We then discuss failure and success factors highlighted by this multi-year experiment. It illustrates that agroecological crop protection and compliance with the FVC's expectations can be compatible but involve specific trade-offs, depending on the targeted food value chain. We finally stress key areas to investigate further in order to achieve still challenging objectives in vegetable systems.
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https://hal.inrae.fr/hal-03025633
Contributor : Christelle Raynaud <>
Submitted on : Thursday, November 26, 2020 - 12:50:58 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, June 17, 2021 - 3:59:14 AM

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Amélie Lefèvre, Benjamin Perrin, Claire Lesur-Dumoulin, Chloé Salembier, Mireille Navarrete. Challenges of complying with both food value chain specifications and agroecology principles in vegetable crop protection. Agricultural Systems, Elsevier Masson, 2020, 185, ⟨10.1016/j.agsy.2020.102953⟩. ⟨hal-03025633⟩

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