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Principles of direct seeding mulch-based cropping systems - A holistic research approach implemented in Laos

Tivet F., Chantharath B., Tran Quoc H., Julien P., Lienhard P., Panyasiri K., Séguy L.. 2004. In : eds. by Bounthong Bouahom, Aiden Glen. Poverty reduction and shifting cultivation stabilization in the Uplands of Lao PDR: Technologies, approaches and methods for improving Upland livelihoods: Proceedings of a workhsop, Luang Prabang, january 27-30 2004. Vientiane : NAFRI, p. 375-388. Poverty Reduction and Shifting Cultivation Stabilization in the Uplands of Lao PDR : Technologies, Approaches and Methods for Improving Upland Livelihoods, 2004-01-27/2004-01-30, Luang Prabang (Laos, République démocratique populaire).

This paper gives an overview of the holistic research approach implemented by NAFRI and CIRAD and the principles of direct seeding mulch-based cropping (DMC) systems. Conventional agriculture and intensification of shifting cultivation are now being questioned, as they seem unable to face the main challenges of food safety, soil and water conservation, environmental protection and cost reduction. A holistic approach has been developed and managed by farmers, researchers and extension agents, whose aim is to propose agro-ecological systems that are compatible with farmers' strategies and conditions and which can be reproduced inexpensively on a large scale. Agro-ecology is the understanding of dynamics and functions of agro-ecosystems, including all physical, economical and human environments. Direct seeding mulch-based cropping (DMC) systems, replicating functions of forest ecosystem, are one of the components of agro-ecology strategy. The main principle of these systems is that the soil is no longer disturbed by mechanical action, and is always kept covered by former crop residues and dead or living mulch. These systems can be based on annual and perennial crops integrated with one or two cereal or forage crops per year, which may be associated with livestock production. Systems of no tillage and proper use of cover crop stop soil erosion and increase organic matter. Deep rooting cover crop systems improve physical soil structure, increase belowground insects and microbial communities and recycle nutrients leached deep in the soil. If the quantity and quality of mulch are sufficient, weeds are controlled and water availability for crops increases. This leads to environmentally friendly and technologically and economically efficient agriculture.(Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés : culture sous couvert végétal; semis direct; plante de culture; république démocratique populaire lao; agriculture de conservation

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