07 October 2019

Experimental platforms for comparing cultivation systems

An ambitious CRA-W project that will provide solutions and answers to future agricultural challenges.

One of the missions of the CRA-W is to develop innovative scientific research and build on creative forward thinking. With this in mind, in 2018 the CRA-W set itself the task of launching platforms for the comparison of cultivation systems. This bold CRA-W project will provide solutions and respond to the challenges faced by agriculture in the future. We are especially focussed on the highly significant reduction, or even eradication, of synthetic inputs, the maintenance of soil fertility and biodiversity, the effects of climate change and the reduction of greenhouse gases (GHGs). .. At the same time, we aim to ensure that farmers retain sufficient long-term economic profitability.

A Cultivation System (Système de Culture-SdC) is a series of technical methods implemented over several plots of land which, over the years, are managed in the same way. A cultivation system is built up, firstly, within a specific setting (pedoclimatic conditions, arable crops or market gardening, organic and/or conventional agriculture, links with animal production, ...) and, secondly, according to objectives (economic profitability, decrease in GHGs, etc.) and constraints (reduction of tillage, use of pesticides, etc.). It will be characterised by the nature and predefined sequence of crops (rotation) and tested technical routes, etc.

In constructing its cultivation systems, the CRA-W adopts a co-design approach that involves combined groups of farmers, sector representatives and scientists. This vision of a grower/researcher combination aims to develop experimentation that responds to the questions facing the sector, while remaining scientifically robust. Three platforms spanning twenty hectares have been developed within the CRA-W domain. Each has a different purpose:

  • a comparison platform of so-called conventional arable crop systems,
  • a platform for arable crops within the context of organic farming,
  • and a platform for organic market garden crops.

The three platforms have now been set up and an initial situational analysis (baseline scenario) of the experimental plots has been established. The SdCs will then be left to themselves and their evolution will be observed. Where appropriate, changes may be made that enable the SdCs to remain within the scope of the objectives initially set. It will ultimately be possible to carry out comparative studies between the SdCs and/or between these and those of other platforms developed elsewhere in Wallonia.

Details concerning the experimental platforms can be found on our website:

Plateforme Grandes Cultures Conventionnelles : https://www.cra.wallonie.be/fr/plateforme-systemes-cultures-innovants

- Plateforme Grandes Cultures Bio : https://www.cra.wallonie.be/fr/plateforme-grandes-cultures-bio

- Plateforme Maraîchage Bio : https://www.cra.wallonie.be/fr/plateforme-maraichage-bio