Biodiversity and ecosystem services in intensive cereal systems: an agro-ecology agenda for meeting ECOPHYTO 2018 target
The future of intensive farming systems in the context of global change is a considerable challenge: tomorrow’s agriculture will have to deliver innovative solutions that are acceptable to civil society and produce sufficient food, while integrating environmental objectives in a global context of increasing uncertainty. One such societal demand was strongly expressed during the Grenelle consultation process that was organized in France in 2007, which gave birth to the Plan Ecophyto 2018 (launched in 2008). In addition to mandating the withdrawal from the market of plant protection products containing the most active substances of concern, the core purpose of the Ecophyto 2018 action plan is to identify and innovate, and then disseminate the best low-pesticide agricultural practices. Ecophyto has however failed so far for weeds and herbicides: herbicides alone account for 40% of pesticide use in France, and thus the success of Ecophyto 2018 will ultimately rely on herbicide reduction. The aim of AgrobioSE is precisely to address this challenge. Three research hypotheses will structure AgrobioSE: 1/ matching crop yields of current intensive agriculture while reducing herbicide use will require combining local (agricultural practices, crop rotations) and regional innovations (landscape organization, co-construction by stakeholders, public action), i.e. merging innovations from individual (farmers), collective (research, cooperatives) or institutional levels (government, local authorities); 2/ we expect an overall positive response of biodiversity, should the 50% reduction in the use of pesticides is met; i.e., an increase in i) weed diversity; ii) regulatory processes (pollination, biological control) enhancing the sustainability of trophic interactions; and iii) the resilience of agro-ecosystems; and 3/ the enhancement of regulatory processes will, in turn, benefit farmers (crop production) and citizens (cultural services).
Therefore our scientific goal is to assess whether the ecosystem services that biodiversity can support may provide a framework for sustainable and predictable solutions through the implementation of innovative agricultural production systems built collectively by stakeholders. The project will be organized around four axes: a collective scientific animation; a theoretical research for major scientific knowledge gaps; a more applied research designed to quantify ecosystem processes and services; and finally an evaluation of innovative technical scenarios in combination with exploratory modelling. We will study agricultural land already located in protected areas designated for their high biodiversity value, as this will facilitate the identification of ecological, agronomic, economic, and social conditions that promote a productive, viable, and sustainable agriculture, accepted by citizens. Our study will be conducted in Epoisses and Zone Atelier Plaine & Val de Sèvre (ZA-PVS), where the CEBC-CNRS already promotes Agri-Environmental Schemes, that will allow us to verify the effects of reduced herbicide (i.e., a situation close to a pilot test of Ecophyto 2018). We have assembled a multidisciplinary consortium of 40 permanent researchers and technicians from 6 academic partners to produce the knowledge, tools and innovations necessary to develop such a novel agricultural production system. Our project will provide support for the Plan Ecophyto, for which we will provide scientific advances on the (potential) role of ecological processes such as biological regulation to manage agricultural systems, and guidance thanks to strong interaction with farmers in ZA-PVS and in the DEPHY networks.
CNRS CEBC Centre d'Etudes Biologiques de Chizé
ANR grant: 744 615 euros
Project ID: ANR-13-AGRO-0001
Monsieur Vincent Bretagnolle (Centre d'Etudes Biologiques de Chizé)
Scientific Manager UMR Agroécologie : Sabrina GABA