Organic farming, as stated by IFOAM, relies on a holistic and systemic management of the sustainability of agroecosystems. Functioning of organic cropping systems is based on long-term biological processes. Long-term cropping systems experiments (LTE) are thus of major interest for the further development of organic farming.

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Visit of French LTEs staff to the MOLTE LTE (Tuscany, Italy) – © Laurence Fontaine, ITAB

 

Why is there a need for long-term experiment research in Organic Farming? Understanding and managing organic cropping systems require long-term monitoring and assessment of such systems. Moreover, organic farming should be supported by research on exploring new best practices, based on biological processes and aiming at being more sustainable, embracing thus agroecological principles. Long-term cropping systems experiments (LTE) are thus of major interest for the further development of organic farming. Such experiments offer the opportunity to assess agricultural performance at the cropping system scale including inter-annual effects at the crop sequence level. They combine both a holistic and long-term approach of the agroecosystems with a scientific sound approach.

Why building a European organic LTEs network? The objectives of such a network would be (i) to have an overview of the diversity and convergences of LTE research on organic farming in Europe, (ii) to exchange ideas on the way to conduct an organic LTE from design, stakeholder inclusion to data analysis, thus supporting capacity building of the persons in charge of the experiments (iii) to clearly better know each other for further development of collaborative project, aiming also at pooling and comparing results to contribute efficiently to organic research.

What has been done so far? Recently, two national networks of organic LTEs were identified and linked: Retibio network in Italy (Peronti et al., 2015) and RotAB network in France. They organised cross-visits and workshops and have been sharing experiences on LTE’s management, fund raising opportunities and stakeholder involvement. From these first meetings emerged the idea to structure a European network of organic LTEs, thus revitalising the former experience promoted by ISOFAR some year ago and fostering - at the same time - the discussion dealing with the organic LTEs in order to put it in line with the most updated research trajectories of the organic food and farming sector. Indeed, It was considered relevant to include in the network organic LTEs that are designed in accordance to the agroecological principles, then distinguishable for their nature and features, thus representing powerful research infrastructure to contribute to the joint development of multidisciplinary research in organic farming and agroecology.

Outcomes documents of the first meetings: (https://goo.gl/hyEhtM)

Map of the first identified LTEs: (https://goo.gl/JW79FG)

 

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Visit of Italian LTEs staff to the Corbas LTE (Rhône-Alpes, France) – © Olivier Duchêne, ISARA-Lyon


If you are involved in agroecologically sound research activities and in charge of an organic LTE and you wish to join this starting network, please contact:

Marion Casagrande (ITAB): This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.;

Stefano Canali (CREA):

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.;

Daniele Antichi (University of Pisa): This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.;

Cesare Pacini (University of Firenze): This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.