Digital revolution for the agroecological transition of food systems: a responsible research and innovation perspective - INRAE - Institut national de recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement Access content directly
Journal Articles Agricultural Systems Year : 2022

Digital revolution for the agroecological transition of food systems: a responsible research and innovation perspective

Pierre Labarthe


CONTEXTSo far, digital technology development in agriculture has mainly dealt with precision agriculture, often associated with conventional large-scale systems. The emergence of digital agriculture - based on the triptych of “new data sources / new processing methods / new inter-connection capacities (internet)” - opens up prospects for mobilizing digital technologies to accelerate the deployment of other forms of agriculture, such as agroecology. A specific research agenda must therefore be built to redirect researchers specialized in digital technologies towards these new issues. This construction is significant because digital technology and agroecology are disruptive innovations that shake up the actors' practices, agricultural innovation ecosystems, and value chains.OBJECTIVEAn interdisciplinary group of INRAE researchers (covering 10 scientific departments) was mandated to carry out this reflection, with the objective of developing a research agenda to better couple digitalization and agroecology, in order to pave the way for responsible digital farming. The group used the framework of responsible research and innovation.METHODOver 18 months, the group met monthly by video-conference, to overcome the interdisciplinarity barrier, and at three face-to-face seminars, where creative design exercises were carried out (based on a world café format, and “remember the future” method). This work gave rise to three prospective lines of research aimed at putting digitalization at the service of agroecology and local food systems. These topics prioritize research that fosters innovations in digital technology, as well as organisations and policies that (1) accelerate the agroecological transition on the farm and in the territories, (2) manage the territories as commons, (3) empower farmers and consumers. Then, the group examined these three prospective lines of research from an RRI perspective as well as three current research topics on digital agriculture (digital soil mapping, precision agriculture, technologies for food wastage reduction).RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONSThis work allowed us to highlight the gaps between current research on digital agriculture and the RRI expectations, and the tensions (between rationalization and diversity of farming systems, between complexity of agroecological systems and the need for simplification of models, and finally between data speculation and frugality). We were also able to refine the specific scientific questions of each prospective line of research and finally to draw attention to the key levers that will have to be integrated if these research efforts are to be approached from an RRI perspective.SIGNIFICANCEThis contribution shows RRI can be used not only to reflect on research practices but also as a framework to build a research agenda paving the way for responsible digital agriculture.
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Dates and versions

hal-03806807 , version 1 (24-11-2022)





Véronique Bellon-Maurel, Evelyne Lutton, Pierre Bisquert, Ludovic Brossard, Stephanie Chambaron, et al.. Digital revolution for the agroecological transition of food systems: a responsible research and innovation perspective. Agricultural Systems, 2022, 203, pp.103524. ⟨10.1016/j.agsy.2022.103524⟩. ⟨hal-03806807⟩
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