A participatory experimental farm to design cropping systems for high performance through enhanced ecosystem services provision
8th International Conference of the Ecosystem Services Partnership : 9-13 November, South Africa
Modern agriculture faces the challenge to combine sustainable food production with environmental protection. Agro-ecology sciences explore ways to optimise ecological functions to support food production. The design and management of agro-systems are important determinants of quality and quantity of ecosystem services provision. Indeed, some practices have been identified as "leverage practices" due to the significant ecosystem goods and services they trigger such as permanent cover crop, agro-forestry or legume based rotation. However, not enough field scale studies have assessed the link between enhanced ecosystem services and system's integrated performance. The practical application of ecosystem based management in agriculture requires to validate the link between enhanced ecosystem services and improved socio-economic and environmental performances, with a set of economic thresholds. For this reason, a participatory experimental farm located in France is proposing to conduct a technical itinerary which combines several leverage practices with the aim to quantify the change in the system's performance based on ecosystem services provision. It will help farmers to be better acquainted and so appreciate ecosystem based approaches and the contribution of ecosystem services to sustainable crop production. Moreover, it will bring further scientifically based references to improve agro-ecological systems. And finally it will facilitate a fast and effective transition of large scale agricultural systems toward sustainable food production.