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Crop-livestock integration, from single-practice to global functioning in the tropics: Case studies in Guadeloupe

Abstract : Agricultural systems will have to produce more and better in a changing world. Mixed crop livestock systems (MCLS) are sound alternative ways to progressively achieve these goals through crop-livestock integration (CLI). CLI exploits the synergies between cropping and livestock systems, for example, through organic fertilization and the use of crop residues to feed livestock, and offers many opportunities to improve productivity, as well as to increase resource use efficiency and improve the resilience of the whole farming system. In the scientific literature, authors advocate the interest of MLCS and CLI, based on theoretital considerations, modelling and empirical evidence from local case studies. But these studies do not clearly identify the respective roles of the diversity of activities and CLI management practices in improving performances at the level of the whole farming system. The aim of this study was thus to assess CLI at farm scale in a range of MCLS and to explain farm performances by analyzing the combination of activities and the level of integration. This study was conducted in Guadeloupe, (French West Indies), where MCLS and CLI are complex but important challenges for local agricultural. Ecological network analysis was used to study the structure, functioning and performance of agrosystems. To this end, a range of eight farms was selected to characterize CLI as practices, and as a network of nitrogen flows at farm level. The land and labor productivity were then assessed along with the resilience, efficiency, productivity and self-sufficiency of the network of flows. Results show that CLI only applies to certain types of production, including feeding pigs with a wide range of crop residues (crop residues provide from 16 to 45% of the N supply to pigs) or organic fertilization of small market gardens and plots used to grow tubers (manure provides 24-100% of the N supply to plots). But at whole system level, CLI remains low: in seven cases, the N circulating within the system - ICR - represent only between 0.7 to 3.5% of the total N circulating through the system; only one farm presents a higher intensity of CLI, with an ICR of 18.9%. Consequently, performances and especially efficiency and productivity, depend more on the nature of the activity than on CLI management practices.
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Fabien Stark, Audrey Fanchone, Ivan Semjen, Charles-Henri Moulin, Harry Archimède. Crop-livestock integration, from single-practice to global functioning in the tropics: Case studies in Guadeloupe. European Journal of Agronomy, Elsevier, 2016, 80, pp.9-20. ⟨10.1016/j.eja.2016.06.004⟩. ⟨hal-01506522⟩



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