Collective design of innovative agroecological cropping systems for the industrial vegetable sector - INRAE - Institut national de recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement Access content directly
Journal Articles Agricultural Systems Year : 2021

Collective design of innovative agroecological cropping systems for the industrial vegetable sector

Abstract

RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: Farmers reduced their Treatment Frequency Index by 15% on average, thanks to the combination of a wide range of agroecological farming practices. A multi-criteria analysis showed that there was no clear improvement in overall cropping system sustainability, due to economic weaknesses. Although these results were somewhat disappointing, especially with respect to the expectations of public policies, they represent a significant progress given the difficulty to reduce the use of chemical pesticides in industrial systems. Farmers underlined the importance of economic security but were nevertheless highly motivated to continue the transformation of their systems, and the working group collectively approved the methodology. Four methodological aspects are discussed, identified as key elements for consideration in this type of study: farm system scale, collective work, farm system flexibility, and farm system uniqueness. Based on these principles, the working group decided to extend the study to a larger scale, with the aim of recruiting more farmers from the sector. SIGNIFICANCE: This study shows that making cropping systems with industrial vegetables evolve toward agroecology is possible thanks to a co-design methodology. In the long term, such initiatives could support theCONTEXT: There is an urgent need to reduce the use of phytosanitary products in industrial vegetables due to environmental and health concerns. However, as in many industrial sectors, vegetables production is characterised by strong constraints related to the expectations of consumers, the profitability of distributors and the processing steps of industrial companies. These constraints impact farming systems through the elaboration of production contracts that hamper innovation and reduce farmers' latitude to evolve toward agroecology. OBJECTIVE: This study was initiated by a French distributor of frozen products, and aimed to create innovative agroeocological cropping systems by circumventing lock-ins of the sector thanks to a co-design methodology. METHODS: An existing methodology of innovative cropping systems design for fresh vegetable crops was adapted to the context of industrial production, considering the 3-year deadline granted to the project. Four farmers were involved, who were part of a working group consisting of a distributor, a processing company, a cooperative and a research team, all involved in the production of frozen vegetables. Four cropping systems were designed, consisting in combinations of agroecological farming practices, and tested on farm for two years.
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hal-03313538 , version 1 (09-05-2023)

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Camille Puech, Arnaud Brulaire, Jérôme Paraiso, Vincent Faloya. Collective design of innovative agroecological cropping systems for the industrial vegetable sector. Agricultural Systems, 2021, 191, pp.103153. ⟨10.1016/j.agsy.2021.103153⟩. ⟨hal-03313538⟩
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