Experts’ perception of potential ecosystem services from agroforestry and other agro-ecological alternatives

Abstract : Although arable landscapes are positively valued by the society, intensified cropping and livestock systems continue to predominate in western EU rural territories. The increase of farm size, conversion/loss of non-crop features and simplification of crop rotations should maintain the trend toward a reduction in landscape diversity associated to an impoverishment of plant and animal communities, a soil and water quality loss due to pollutants transfer, an increase of greenhouse gases and potentially a reduction of the agro-ecosystem’s capacity for carbon sequestration (Stoate et al., 2001). To overcome these issues, in 2012 France decided to set up a strategic programme for the generalisation of “agro-ecology”. All farms are proposed to reach economic, social and environmental performances all in one (MAAF, 2016). Innovative cropping/livestock systems are thus expected and special attention is granted to agroforestry which is more than ever widely considered, being even sometimes proposed as the unique solution enable to limit most of the externalities from intensified agriculture. However, the ecosystem services from agroforestry are not well known. When some are studied, the use of references produced is limited to the sole cropping system, region and tree species of the study area. That is why the appropriation of agroforestry usually remains theoretical (practical use being possible but not without precautions and risks). References on the potential advantages and limits of agroforestry are very frequently expected and questioned within rural territories, by farmers or students. This is particularly the case of water operators which have the duties and the financial capacities to propose to farmers the improvement of the ecological status of their agricultural fields in order to locally contribute to the protection and/or the recovering of the water quality. Very often, [1] a range of agro-ecological infrastructures such as agricultural parcel (re)forestation (APF), peripheral hedge (PHD), living slope fascine (LSF), mechanical slope fascine (MSF), Grass-covering conversion (GCC), intercalated agroforestry (AGF), short rotation coppice (SRC), in-parcel grass strip (GST), in-parcel slope or ditch (SLO), pond (PON) and [2] a range of agri-technical alternatives such as no-tillage technics (NOT), direct (undercover) seeding (DIS) or even tillage direction change (TDC) are proposed to farmers to compensate/replace their intensified practices. But alternatives’ adoption remains limited because farmers ignore or are skeptical of such alternatives and the local farm advisory services often lack expertise. The PREVALTERA project conduced in the Nord - Pas-de-Calais region (Grandgirard et al., 2011) aimed to fill the needs of knowledge and expertise. Experts’ perception and knowledge about the potential ecosystem services from agro-ecological and agro-technical alternatives have been surveyed and analysed. Objectives are three: (i) to identify the main ecosystem services to be related to the alternatives assessed, (ii) to propose a first cross-ranking of these alternatives and (iii) to identify and rank the ecosystem potentials of the two main agroforestry types questioned in France which are PHD and AGF.
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D. Grandgirard, Florence Carre, C. Leclercq, F. Chemin, Mélanie Beauchamp, et al.. Experts’ perception of potential ecosystem services from agroforestry and other agro-ecological alternatives. 3. European agroforestry conference, May 2016, Montpellier, France. pp.58-61. ⟨ineris-01863849⟩

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