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Last update: May 2021

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Farmers' innovations as a source of knowledge for redesign agricultural systems

The case of multi-species associations based on legumes

19 February 2020

Bean and triticale association
© Elise Pelzer
The agro-ecological transition requires a profound and systemic transformation of agricultural practices. Among the candidate innovations, multi-species associations are known to reduce the environmental impacts of agriculture, while maintaining or even increasing yields. Although they are not widely used, some farmers nevertheless cultivate them with satisfaction.

To help farmers design these associations, we set up a tracking system for existing ones. The identification and study of associations, designed and cultivated by innovative farmers, made it possible to produce and formalise knowledge concerning the logics of action of these pioneer farmers, thus leading to the formalisation of resources to support the design processes of other farmers. In total, 77 associations combining 29 different species were studied, organised into 7 different types, characterised by the temporal organisation of the association and the intended outlet for the production. The great diversity of technical choices observed between the associations studied was explained by the farmer's objectives, his evaluation criteria and the farm context.

Bibliographical references :

Verret V., Pelzer E., Bedoussac L., Jeuffroy M.H., 2020. Tracking on-farm innovative practices to support crop mixture design: the case of annual mixtures including a legume crop. Eur J Agr, 115, 126018.

Verret V., Pelzer E., Bedoussac L., Jeuffroy M.-H., 2019. Traque aux innovations d’agriculteurs pour la conception d’associations d’espèces incluant des légumineuses. Innovations agronomiques, 74, 143-154

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