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Closing yield gap under uncertain weather : risk analysis of cropping system intensification in family agriculture of the tropics

Affholder F., Madeira Netto J., Scopel E., Wery J.. 2010. In : Wery Jacques (ed.), Shili-Touzi I. (ed.), Perrin A. (ed.). Proceedings of Agro 2010 : the XIth ESA Congress, August 29th - September 3rd, 2010, Montpellier, France. Montpellier : Agropolis international, p. 341-342. ESA Congress. 11, 2010-08-29/2010-09-03, Montpellier (France).

How far do risks related to rainfall inter-annual variability limit the shift from extensive to intensive farming systems in family agriculture of the tropics? We explored this question in the Brazilian cerrado, where high average rainfall (up to 1500mm y-1) but large inter-annual variability of weather translates into strongly varying annual crop performance. While many farms maintain extensive farming and cropping systems (CS), many others have shifted to intensive dairy systems within a decade, with associated intensification of maize production as an essential step (Bainville et al., 2005). The study reported here aimed at assessing maize yield inter-annual variability under the range of environments and CS observed in the region to better identify biophysical constraints and management tactics to help close the yield gap. The latter is defined here as the gap between yields obtained by farmers and the potential yield that would be obtained in this region with the same cultivars in the absence of limiting factors other than radiation and temperature.

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