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Damour G.,CIRAD Persyst UR Systemes de Culture a base de Bananiers | Ozier-Lafontaine H.,French National Institute for Agricultural Research | Dorel M.,CIRAD Persyst UR Systemes de Culture a base de Bananiers
Field Crops Research | Year: 2012

To reduce chemical inputs while maintaining crop yield, disturbed ecosystem functions must be restored, for example by cover-crops. In these cropping systems, because of competition between species, soil resources must be carefully managed. Dedicated tools and models are needed that account for the adverse effects of the cover-crop on the cash crop in terms of resource availability. Besides classical agronomic calculations of stress indices, which are difficult to generalize and require numerous parameters, recent work in ecology has related plant traits, like the biomass accumulated, to the resource availability during the whole plant cycle. Following such a simple approach, the objectives of this study were (i) to determine the effects of water and nitrogen limitations on banana growth and development and to test whether simple integrated traits can highlight the effects of these stresses on banana growth, (ii) to parameterize a simple generic module of soil water and nitrogen availability linked to SIMBA GROW, the growth module of the banana crop model SIMBA, (iii) to assess the ability of the model to simulate banana growth and development in the environmental conditions of a banana/cover-crop system, with particular attention on the effects of changes in plot temperature on model outputs. Three experiments were conducted on whole production cycles to investigate the effects of different water regimes, different nitrogen fertilization levels, and the cover-crop Neonotonia wightii on banana growth, nutritional status, and date of flowering. Results showed low nitrogen availability affected banana growth only weakly but decreased leaf nitrogen content and delayed flowering. Low water availability delayed flowering and decreased banana growth. In both cases, the delayed flowering allowed longer banana growth, which balanced the negative effect of low availability on the growth rate. The cover-crop modified both the rooting depth of the banana, and thus the amount of resources accessible to the banana roots, and the plot microclimate, especially air temperature. The model correctly reproduced the differences of date of flowering and leaf area index at flowering for a first cycle of production between a bare-soil and a cover-crop system, provided air temperature was reduced by 2-3% due to the cover-crop. To conclude, this study showed that in fairly constant environmental conditions (temperature, radiation and rainfall) a simplified model using resource availability over the growing period and integrated plant traits satisfactorily simulates banana growth in an intercropped system. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.

Damour G.,CIRAD Persyst UR Systemes de culture a base de bananiers | Dorel M.,CIRAD Persyst UR Systemes de culture a base de bananiers | Quoc H.T.,CIRAD Persyst UR Systemes de culture a base de bananiers | Meynard C.,CIRAD Persyst UR Systemes de culture a base de bananiers | Risede J.-M.,CIRAD - Agricultural Research for Development
European Journal of Agronomy | Year: 2014

Cover plants are one of the means to increase the functional biodiversity of fields and to enhance the ecological functions of the communities. However, the design of cropping systems including cover plants relies largely on expert knowledge. There is a lack of methods to select the best suited cover plants according to their role in the agrosystem. We propose to use functional traits to select cover plants suited to sustain ecological services in the banana agrosystems of the French West Indies. Our objectives were (i) to characterize a collection of cover plants on a trait basis, according to their potential to provide the services expected in a banana agrosystem and (ii) to discuss the potential use of this characterization for the design of innovative multi-species banana cropping systems. In these systems, four main services are targeted, i.e. controlling weeds, controlling plant-parasitic nematodes, improving soil fertility and particularly N availability, and avoiding competition with banana for resource acquisition. Three experiments were conducted, under field and controlled conditions, to evaluate the potential of a collection of 28 tropical cover plants to achieve the functions related to these services. For each cover plant, a functional profile was constructed from a combination of plant traits that are easy to assess experimentally. It described plants' potential to achieve the functions expected in a banana agrosystem. Functional profiles required for cover plant usages were also identified. The comparison of the plant functional profiles and the functional profiles required for their usages enabled us to select the best suited plants for each usage. However, these functional profiles rarely corresponded, meaning that a cover plant is rarely sufficient to achieve all the functions required for a usage. Functional complementarities obtained by the mixture of different species of cover plants are thus often required. Compared to classical approaches of innovative cropping system design based on the experimental testing of spatial and temporal plant combinations, such a trait-based approach saves time by focusing on a shortlist of cover plants best suited according to their functions in the agrosystem. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.

Damour G.,CIRAD Persyst UR Systemes de culture a base de bananiers | Garnier E.,CNRS Center of Evolutionary and Functional Ecology | Navas M.L.,CNRS Center of Evolutionary and Functional Ecology | Dorel M.,CIRAD Persyst UR Systemes de culture a base de bananiers | Risede J.-M.,CIRAD - Agricultural Research for Development
Advances in Agronomy | Year: 2015

Cover plant-based cropping systems have gained considerable attention over the last few years because of the recognized benefits of increasing the diversity of agrosystems to sustain services other than those pertaining to production. While agronomical tools and methods to assess these services in multispecies plant communities barely exist, trait-based approaches, originally developed in the field of comparative functional ecology, provide an appropriated framework to study the effects of plant diversity on agrosystems. The aim of this article is to discuss how a trait-based approach can be used to assess the services delivered in cover plant-based cropping system. We focus on semiperennial cropping systems based on cover plants, exemplified by the banana cropping systems. These systems are described in a first section to identify the services targeted. A second section, based on a literature survey, analyzes the processes associated with each service and identifies related effect traits of cover plants. A shortlist of markers to be used to assess agrosystem processes is proposed and hypothesis on trade-offs and synergies among services are formulated. In a third section, issues related to the scaling-up from plant traits to the services delivered by plant agricultural communities are discussed. Such an approach, originated in the field of ecology, appears highly promising to tackle agronomic issues and its application to agrosystems constitutes a challenging test of their genericity. It raises specific questions and stresses the need for new methodological developments, which could be part of a research agenda at the interface between the two disciplines. © 2015 Elsevier Inc.

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