Have you said, agroecology?

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What is agroecology?

Agroecology is a scientific subject stemming from the crossing of three disciplinary groups: agronomic sciences (agronomy and animal breeding), theoretical ecology applied to agrosystems, and social and economic sciences (sociology, geography, economy).[1] It aims to analyze, through these three scientific approaches, the management of an “agro-eco-system”. There are different goals as to maximize a sustainable production in agriculture, preserve capacities to regenerate resources, and to supply humans with multiple services (such as water conservation, control of pests, pollination,…).[1]

What’s about agroecology in France?

Stéphane Le Foll
Stéphane Le Foll. Photo: Jackolan1/Wikipedia
In France, agroecology has been developing since 2008, and is gradually being considered as a new academic discipline. Increasing evidence show that agroecology will become a national stake for the French agriculture over the next few years. Stéphane Le Foll, the French Minister of Agriculture, Food-processing Industry and Forestry, has highlighted it as a priority, and presented an agroecology project for France.[2] This project should help farmers to develop an agriculture safer for ecology. It has to allow them to produce more durably, while remaining competitive economically. A call for «collective mobilization for the agroecology» projects, endowed with 2.5 million euros, has just been launched.[3] Besides, Olivier de Schutter (Belgian), the «special reporter» of the United Nations for the Right to Food, made a report named «Agroecology and the right to food»,[3] which has inspired many politicians, like Pascal Lamy, the managing director of the WTO (WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION).[4] Finally INRA (the French National Institute for the Agronomic Research) has defined the research in agroecology as one of the two top priority works over the period stretching from 2010 to 2014.

What about the results in the field?

USC Agroecology Center
USC Agroecology Center. Photo: Le~Joy/Flickr

One of the objectives of agroecology is to decrease the use of pesticides and insecticides to fight the adventitia and pests. Their over-use is the origin of the many resistances. The principle of agroecology is to rely on ecological processes to fight against these organisms, by using biological predators of the noxious ones or by focusing on the complementarity of some crops to keep them away. The experimental unit at Époisses (near Dijon, Burgundy) has been working for 10 years in the agroecology field, specifically on systems of culture with integrated protection.[5] The integrated protection is based on the combined use of a set of cultural techniques: diversification of crops (legumes) and their successions, addition of spring cultures (barley, sunflower, lupinus)… The prospective results over 10 years show that it is indeed possible to develop a strategy of control of the adventitious, while reducing drastically the use of weed-killers. The experiment has yet to be pursued by developing new criteria, such as biodiversity measures.

Illustrations

Stéphane Le Foll. Photo by Jackolan1/Wikipedia. This image licensed under a Creative Commons by-sa licence.

USC Agroecology Center. Photo by Le~Joy/Flickr. This image licensed under a Creative Commons by-nc-nd licence.

Bibliography

[1] Les mots de l’agonomie, Agroécologie, http://mots-agronomie.inra.fr/mots-agronomie.fr/index.php/Agro%C3%A9cologie

[2] Agroecology in action, What is agroecology ?, http://agroeco.org/

[3] Portail du gouvernement (France), Le projet agro-écologique pour la France, http://www.gouvernement.fr/gouvernement/le-projet-agro-ecologique-pour-la-france

[4] Stéphane LE FOLL lance un appel à projets « mobilisation collective pour l’agro-écologie » http://agriculture.gouv.fr/Stephane-LE-FOLL-lance-un-appel-a

[5] De Schutter O., Rapport : agroécologie et droit à l’alimentation, http://www.srfood.org/index.php/fr/component/content/article/1174-report-agroecology-and-the-right-to-food


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