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Contribution of agronomy to land management issues - A Comparison of five interdisciplinary PhD theses

Marraccini E., Rizzo D., Debolini M., Planchat C., Toillier A.. 2012. In : IFSA. Producing and reproducing farming systems. New modes of organisation for sustainable food systems of tomorrow : 10th European IFSA Symposium, July 1-4, 2012, Aarhus, Denmark. Vienne : IFSA, 11 p.. European IFSA Symposium. 10, 2012-07-01/2012-07-04, Aarhus (Danemark).

An introductory literature review highlights the growing attention within the processes taking place at farming region and landscape scale beside the classical spatial scales at cultivated/experimental plot level. This recent evolution in agronomy finds its origin in newly emerging land management issues. Meanwhile, geography and other disciplines are stressing the need for a greater integration of multifunctional agricultural activities into the decision-making processes at the various levels of land management, such as provinces, municipalities or watersheds. This requires also that studies on farmland management include explicitly the different environmental and social contexts influencing farming activities. In this paper we aim to analyse how recent agronomic oriented research are facing and supporting various land management issues. We have compared five interdisciplinary PhD theses examining their definitions and methods of analysis for: the farming system, the local land management issues at stake, the spatial scale selected for the study, the stakeholders' involvement and the interaction with other disciplines. Common issues which emerged from this comparison are delivery of agro-environmental services, sustainable land management and landscape conservation. Multiple spatial levels were considered, which included at least one administrative unit of policy decision/implementation. Consequently, the explicit (re)definition of some agronomic concepts and methods was needed. Regarding the interdisciplinary framework, the theses have stressed the interactions among agronomy, geography and ecology. All theses aimed at delivering tools for decision-making support, mainly in the form of cartography. Nevertheless the participation of local stakeholders was generally included as a final step; herewith the settings of stakeholders' involvement were various. In conclusion, we discuss how the produced knowledge has enhanced the land management issues in local planning tools. On these bases, we stress finally the issues at stake to strengthen the roles and contributions of agronomic oriented education and research to agricultural land management and development.

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