Castanet-Tolosan, France
Castanet-Tolosan, France

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Bedoussac L.,ENFA | Bedoussac L.,French National Institute for Agricultural Research | Journet E.-P.,French National Institute for Agricultural Research | Journet E.-P.,French National Center for Scientific Research | And 6 more authors.
Agronomy for Sustainable Development | Year: 2015

World population is projected to reach over nine billion by the year 2050, and ensuring food security while mitigating environmental impacts represents a major agricultural challenge. Thus, higher productivity must be reached through sustainable production by taking into account climate change, resources rarefaction like phosphorus and water, and losses of fertile lands. Enhancing crop diversity is increasingly recognized as a crucial lever for sustainable agro-ecological development. Growing legumes, a major biological nitrogen source, is also a powerful option to reduce synthetic nitrogen fertilizers use and associated fossil energy consumption. Organic farming, which does not allow the use of chemical, is also regarded as one prototype to enhance the sustainability of modern agriculture while decreasing environmental impacts. Here, we review the potential advantages of eco-functional intensification in organic farming by intercropping cereal and grain legume species sown and harvested together. Our review is based on a literature analysis reinforced with integration of an original dataset of 58 field experiments conducted since 2001 in contrasted pedo-climatic European conditions in order to generalize the findings and draw up common guidelines. The major points are that intercropping lead to: (i) higher and more stable grain yield than the mean sole crops (0.33 versus 0.27 kg m−2), (ii) higher cereal protein concentration than in sole crop (11.1 versus 9.8 %), (iii) higher and more stable gross margin than the mean sole crops (702 versus 577 € ha−1) and (iv) improved use of abiotic resources according to species complementarities for light interception and use of both soil mineral nitrogen and atmospheric N2. Intercropping is particularly suited for low-nitrogen availability systems but further mechanistic understanding is required to propose generic crop management procedures. Also, development of this practice must be achieved with the collaboration of value chain actors such as breeders to select cultivars suited to intercropping. © 2015, INRA and Springer-Verlag France.

Magne M.A.,ENFA | Magne M.A.,French National Institute for Agricultural Research | Thenard V.,French National Institute for Agricultural Research | Mihout S.,French National Institute for Agricultural Research
Animal | Year: 2016

Finding ways of increasing animal production with low external inputs and without compromising reproductive performances is a key issue of livestock systems sustainability. One way is to take advantage of the diversity and interactions among components within livestock systems. Among studies that investigate the influence of differences in animals’ individual abilities in a herd, few focus on combinations of cow breeds with contrasting features in dairy cattle herds. This study aimed to analyse the performances and management of such multi-breed dairy cattle herds. These herds were composed of two types of dairy breeds: ‘specialist’ (Holstein) and ‘generalist’ (e.g. Montbeliarde, Simmental, etc.). Based on recorded milk data in southern French region, we performed ANOVA: (i) to compare the performances of dairy herds according to breed-type composition: multi-breed, single specialist breed or single generalist breed and (ii) to test the difference of milk performances of specialist and generalist breed cows (n = 10 682) per multi-breed dairy herd within a sample of 22 farms. The sampled farmers were also interviewed to characterise herd management through multivariate analysis. Multi-breed dairy herds had a better trade-off among milk yield, milk fat and protein contents, herd reproduction and concentrate-conversion efficiency than single-breed herds. Conversely, they did not offer advantages in terms of milk prices and udder health. Compared to specialist dairy herds, they produce less milk with the same concentrate-conversion efficiency but have better reproductive performances. Compared to generalist dairy herds, they produce more milk with better concentrate-conversion efficiency but have worse reproductive performances. Within herds, specialist and generalist breed cows significantly differed in milk performances, showing their complementarity. The former produced more milk for a longer lactation length while the latter produced milk with higher protein and fat contents and had a slightly longer lactation rank. Our results also focus on the farmers’ management of multi-breed dairy herds underlying herd performances. Three strategies of management were identified and structured along two main axes. The first differentiates farmers according to their animal-selection practices in relation with their objectives of production: adapting animal to produce milk with low-feeding inputs v. focussing on milk yield trait to intensify milk production. The second refers to the purpose farmers give to multi-breed dairy herds: milk v. milk/meat production. These initial insights on the performances and management of multi-breed dairy herds contribute to better understanding the functioning of ruminant livestock systems based on individual variability. © The Animal Consortium 2016

Derville M.,ENFA | Allaire G.,French National Institute for Agricultural Research
Food Policy | Year: 2014

The aim of this article is to analyze how market actors, and farmers in particular, mobilize collective coordination capacities to face global changes - market price or sectorial policies - within different regional contexts. A multi-scale conceptual framework is proposed to analyze market functioning and transformation over time and space. We extend Commons and Fligstein's work on market institutions to define the notion of competition regime as a combination of four market institutions that legitimizes competition strategies. We also mobilize Ostrom's work on common property rights regimes to show that a competition regime relies on the creation and management of two systems of common-pool resources, namely innovation capacity and reputation-building. This paper then shows the relevance of this framework through the case study of the current restructuring of dairy supply chains in mountainous areas in France. It shows that market liberalization strongly destabilizes the regional competition regimes that were based on the appropriation of social rights inherent to the national public policies. In the hybrid and specific competition regimes, existing territorial coordination devices are not directly threatened and can support the development of new cooperative strategies. In all cases, with the development of a contractual economy, farmers are incited to develop or to strengthen coordination devices to become effective market participants. Through the development of large territorial producers' organizations capable of managing milk supply in volume and quality, they would be able to take part in the management of the supply chains. To do so, the present paper suggests that farmers' organizations need material and immaterial investments and assistance from regional public players to build new local collective capacities. The competition regime framework is an asset for the design of such public supports in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, taking the regional specificity of the markets' institutions and collective capacities into account. © 2014 The Authors.

News Article | October 26, 2015

In a new study, publishing in the Open Access journal PLOS Biology on October 26th, Elvire Bestion, Julien Cote and colleagues examined the consequences of a 2°C warmer climate on the persistence of populations of common lizards (Zootoca vivipara), a widespread European reptile. Their results show that many common lizard populations could disappear rapidly as a consequence of such warmer temperatures. "Breed fast and die young" seems to be the new mantra of common lizards in the face of climate change; it is also the conclusion reached by researchers from the Station d'écologie expérimentale du CNRS à Moulis (SEEM) and the Laboratoire Evolution et Diversité Biologique (EDB, CNRS/Université Toulouse 3 Paul Sabatier/ENFA) who studied this small European reptile species. The team used the Metatron - a system of semi-natural enclosures in which temperature can be manipulated - to create two distinct climates: one similar to the present climate and another 2 °C warmer, corresponding to the predicted climate for the end of the century. Eighteen populations of common lizards were put into Metatron enclosures over two years in the "present" or "warmed" climate. Populations were surveyed for one year, allowing the team to determine the impact of warmer climates on demographic parameters such as growth rate, reproduction and survival. "While a two-degrees warmer climate might seem beneficial at first, as it leads to faster growth of juvenile lizards and earlier access to reproduction, it also leads to lower survival in adult individuals, which should endanger population survival", says Elvire Bestion, co-lead author of the study and currently working at Exeter University (United Kingdom). A model of population dynamics showed that the increased adult mortality would lead to decreased population growth rates, and ultimately to rapid population extinctions in around 20 years. "Although these results might seem dramatic, we do not predict extinction of common lizards at the scale of the species, but we suggest that populations at the southern edge of their range of distribution might particularly suffer from warmer climates", adds Julien Cote, biologist at the Laboratoire Evolution et Diversité Biologique (France) and co-lead author of the study. Indeed, comparisons of experimental conditions to climatic conditions encountered by European populations of common lizards show that warmer climates might threaten between 14 and 30 % of European populations depending on the carbon emission scenario. "Anecdotally, we also showed that warmer climates led some adult females to engage into a second reproduction event during the summer, while these lizards normally reproduce only once a year during the spring. Combined with the earlier juvenile reproduction and the higher adult survival, these results suggest a shift of demographic strategy from a relatively long life and low reproductive output to a faster life, higher reproductive investment. We can wonder whether this strategy shift may help adaptation of populations to warmer climates over time", concludes Elvire Bestion, adding a positive note to overall pessimistic results. More information: Bestion E, Teyssier A, Richard M, Clobert J, Cote J (2015) Live Fast, Die Young: Experimental Evidence of Population Extinction Risk due to Climate Change. PLoS Biol 13(10): e1002281. doi:10.1371/ journal.pbio.1002281

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