Modelling land use strategies to optimise crop production and protection of ecologically important weed species

Abstract : There is a need to develop farming systems that enable both a satisfactory level of crop production and suitable environmental conditions for natural species. Wildlife-friendly cropping techniques, such as a reduced amount of applied herbicide or a lower crop density, might be adopted in order to maintain populations of weed species of biological interest. An alternative might be to adopt an intensive cropping system in a part of the field and spare the other part as set-aside or field margins, available for the natural development of plant species. The objective of this study was to present a method to compare two strategies for maintaining a desirable level of abundance of a given species of interest in agricultural areas, specifically (i) a strategy based on a wildlife-friendly cropping system in a large cultivated area and (ii) a strategy based on a more intensive cropping system in a reduced area of cultivation, i.e. with land-sparing. The principle is to calculate the ratio of crop production obtained with strategy (i) to the production obtained with strategy (ii) for a given target density of natural species. We show that the value of this ratio, and thus the relative performance of the two strategies, depends on the density of the weed species that can be maintained in an uncultivated ecological area. The method is applied in case studies of two plant species with contrasting ecology and conservation goals. The numerical results show that the strategy based on a wildlife-friendly cropping system is more profitable in most situations.
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David Makowski, Thierry Doré, Jacques Gasquez, Nicolas Munier-Jolain. Modelling land use strategies to optimise crop production and protection of ecologically important weed species. Weed Research, Wiley, 2007, 47, pp.202-211. ⟨10.1111/j.1365-3180.2007.00562.x⟩. ⟨hal-01173127⟩

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