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Multiple cropping systems as drivers for providing multiple ecosystem services: from concepts to design

Gaba S., Lescourret F., Boudsocq S., Enjalbert J., Hinsinger P., Journet E.P., Navas M.L., Wery J., Louarn G., Malézieux E., Pelzer E., Prudent M., Ozier-Lafontaine H.. 2015. Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 35 (2) : p. 607-623.

DOI: 10.1007/s13593-014-0272-z

Provisioning services, such as the production of food, feed, and fiber, have always been the main focus of agriculture. Since the 1950s, intensive cropping systems based on the cultivation of a single crop or a single cultivar, in simplified rotations or monocultures, and relying on extensive use of agrochemical inputs have been preferred to more diverse, self-sustaining cropping systems, regardless of the environmental consequences. However, there is increasing evidence that such intensive agroecosystems have led to a decline in biodiversity as well as threatening the environment and have damaged a number of ecosystem services such as the biogeochemical nutrient cycles and the regulation of climate and water quality. Consequently, the current challenge facing agriculture is to ensure the future of food production while reducing the use of inputs and limiting environmental impacts and the loss of biodiversity. Here, we review examples of multiple cropping systems that aim to use biotic interactions to reduce chemical inputs and provide more ecosystem services than just provisioning. Our main findings are the identification of underlying ecological processes and management strategies related to the provision of pairs of ecosystem services namely food production and a regulation service. We also found gaps between ecological knowledge and the constraints of agricultural practices in taking account of the interactions and possible trade-offs between multiple ecosystem services as well as socioeconomic constraints. We present guidelines for the design of multiple cropping systems combining ecological, agricultural, and genetic concepts and approaches.

Mots-clés : système de culture; agroécologie; services écosystémiques; interactions biologiques; culture associée; agriculture durable; agroécosystème; intensification; biodiversité; plante de culture; diversification; analyse économique; conservation des ressources

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