Ambitious environmental and economic goals for the future of agriculture are unequally achieved by innovative cropping systems

Abstract : Agriculture has to face huge challenges in the decades ahead. Four innovative cropping systems were assessed in a “cropping system experiment” in the Ile-de-France region (France) from 2009 to 2014. Three were designed to meet ambitious goals: the total elimination of pesticides (No-Pest), reducing fossil energy consumption by 50% (L-EN), or decreasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 50% (L-GHG). They were also required to satisfy a wide range of environmental criteria and to maximize yields whilst respecting the major constraint on the system and the environmental targets set. A fourth system (PHEP), in which the environmental and yield targets were achieved with no major constraint, was also assessed. After completion of the first full crop sequence for these innovative systems, the results obtained indicated that it was possible to design and implement innovative systems achieving multiple goals. In our field trial conditions, the pesticide and energy constraints were almost satisfied, whereas the GHG target was missed by a considerable margin. All four innovative systems satisfied environmental criteria in terms of N management, pesticide use, energy consumption and crop diversity. However, herbicide treatment frequency index (TFIH) was higher than expected in the two systems with no-plow practices, L-EN and L-GHG. In the pesticide-free system, soil organic matter content was lower than expected, due to frequent plowing (every 2 years) and low residue levels as a result of the lower yields obtained. Yields were lower for the L-EN system than for the reference system, and yield was variable in the L-GHG system. These innovative systems had better environmental performances than the systems currently used in the Ile-de-France region, with no decrease in gross margins.
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Caroline Colnenne-David, Gilles Grandeau, Marie-Hélène Jeuffroy, Thierry Doré. Ambitious environmental and economic goals for the future of agriculture are unequally achieved by innovative cropping systems. Field Crops Research, Elsevier, 2017, 210, pp.114 - 128. ⟨10.1016/j.fcr.2017.05.009⟩. ⟨hal-01540437⟩

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