Two fresh newsletters from INRA's Sustainable Management of Crop Health (SMaCH) metaprogramme are now available (in French), one focusing on the design of sustainable systems and agro-ecological transitions, and one examining the management of crop health at the landscape and territorial scales.
The newsletters are the fruit of a two-day seminar in Paris which provided updates on a range of SMaCH projects and theses. Newsletter number 7, dedicated to projects seeking to build sustainable cropping systems, notes the broad range of disciplines which need to be employed to tackle this issue, with most of SMaCH’s projects in this sphere including at least three scientific fields.
It focuses on perennial crops, with the presentation of progress in four viticulture projects and one concerning arboriculture, alongside research on agro-ecological transitions. The newsletter notes that all of the work on perennial crops is concerned with boosting scientific knowledge, such as disease resistance in grape varieties and conversion trajectories in organic viticulture. Each is linked with research on the acceptability or management of change, both agronomically and in terms of marketing and negotiation capacities.
The production of knowledge for transitions to agro-ecology includes the Dycot project, which is seeking to determine the role of intermediaries working with farmers, and RéDoPic, which is working on the optimisation of the relationship between researchers and those working in the agricultural sector, including technical institutes, distributors and producers.
Newsletter 8 underlines the importance of understanding the factors which reduce pathogen populations and favour beneficials in sustainable crop management approaches. To this end, the six research projects and two theses presented have used multiple competencies, crossing agronomy, biology, ecology, plant pathology and genetics with statistics, quantitative economics, atmospheric physics and even metrology.
The projects have been based on the collection and management of numerous field data for better risk analysis and control. This has included data on pest presence and evolution, such as the pine processionary (Sésame project) and anthracnose in yam (Gap-Yam project), while other projects have focused on the characterisation of the landscape and its impact on pests (Copacabana and Epidec projects).
The newsletter emphasises the importance of the territorial scale in reducing pesticide use, hence a thesis which used participatory socio-ecological models to examine the collective dynamics of a group of fruit farmers. The Fondu project has focused on the acceptability of collective strategies for sustainable fungicide use among farmers. The newsletter also reports on the intensive data collection and management that has been conducted to predict the arrival of new pathogens through air masses and hydrological networks (Epidec project), to gather all the data disseminated over 60 years in agricultural warnings (Histopest project), as well as in a thesis centred on modelling the impact of new cropping systems on the environment and human health.
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