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Intercropping, an application of ecological principles to improve nitrogen use efficiency in organic farming systems

Bedoussac, Laurent; Journet, Etienne-Pascal; Hauggaard-Nielsen, Henrik; Naudin, Christophe; Corre-Hellou, Guénaëlle; Prieur, Loïc ; Jensen, Erik Steen and Justes, Eric (2011) Intercropping, an application of ecological principles to improve nitrogen use efficiency in organic farming systems. In: Organic Farming, prototype for sustainable agricultures?. Springer, Berlin, Germany, - . [Submitted]

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Increasing concerns about environmental impacts and reduction of inputs require a transformation of current cropping systems for better efficiency and sustainability (Cox and Atkins 1979; Jackson and Piper 1989; Vandermeer et al. 1998; Griffon 2006). New agronomic solutions are needed including multiple objectives like i) yield, ii) quality, iii) provision of ecological benefits and iv) the adaptation of production systems to climate change. Organic farming is regarded as a prototype to enhance the sustainability of present cereal-rich cropping systems. Organic farming is in general assumed to rely on higher crop diversity than its conventional counterpart. Nevertheless, organic arable crop rotations in temperate regions consist mainly of sole crops (SC) with the more diverse pastures being an exception. Diversification of farming systems by increasing the number of cultivated species and including a larger proportion of legumes was proposed as one way responding to the challenges of tomorrow’s agriculture. It is important to emphasize that the development of intercrops cannot take place without the assent and collaboration of all the actors in the value chain : i) the farmers of course who need technical support since the new generation of farmers may not possess the know-how to grow arable crops as mixtures, ii) the seed companies which will have to adapt their collecting, sorting and storage equipment to satisfy the processors’ quality demands, iii) the breeders expected to select varieties suited to intercropping, iv) the technical institutions which must acquire technical knowledge, and v) the national and European authorities to consider relevant policy activities to help –reintroducing these cropping strategies.

EPrint Type:Book chapter
Subjects:"Organics" in general
Crop husbandry > Production systems > Pasture and forage crops
Crop husbandry > Crop combinations and interactions
Crop husbandry > Production systems > Cereals, pulses and oilseeds
Farming Systems > Farm nutrient management
Research affiliation: Denmark > DARCOF III (2005-2010) > BIOCONCENS - Biomass and bio-energy production in organic agriculture
Deposited By: Hauggaard-Nielsen, Senior scientist Henrik
ID Code:18985
Deposited On:27 Jun 2011 15:06
Last Modified:13 Jun 2012 06:36
Document Language:English
Refereed:Submitted for peer-review but not yet accepted

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