Multi-functional farming systems in a changing world.
Many staff and PhD students of PPS participated in the Farming Systems Design Conference (7-10 September) in Montpellier, France. They contributed with oral presentations about their research. The diversity of topics covered in these presentations illustrate the vision and mission of the conference, i.e. to share methodological innovations in farming systems research and their applications in agriculture, innovation and policy design. A brief description of each presentation by PhD-students is provided below:
Aart van den Linden:Applying production ecology to livestock enables to identify the most constraining bio-physical factors for livestock production, via mechanistic modelling. This identification provides insight in options how to improve livestock production. Quantification of yield gaps was illustrated for beef production systems in France.
Eskender Beza: An overview of the most important yield gap explaining factors identified from previous agronomic studies using meta-analysis was presented. Opportunities for innovative bottom-up data collection approaches like crowdsourcing (e.g. using SMS method) to collect the important yield gap explaining factors were also highlighted in the presentation.
Esther Ronner: presented her work on the co-design of improved climbing bean technologies for smallholder farmers in Uganda. The presentation highlighted the joint development (by farmers, researchers and extension officers) of a ‘basket of options’ of improved climbing bean technologies for farmers of different socio-economic types and in different bio-physical environments.
Gatien Falconnier presented a cyclic and adaptive combination of participatory approaches, on-farm trials and ex-ante analysis to generate innovative and relevant farm systems that improve farmer income without compromising food self-sufficiency.
João Vasco Silva: An innovative framework combining frontier analysis and production ecology to decompose rice yield gaps was presented. This study used a longitudinal household survey of rice farmers in Central Luzon (Philippines), a region where yield gaps of about 50% of climatic potential yields still persist.
Mary Ollenburger presented a “rapid prototyping” scenario analysis of intensification and cropland expansion options in Bougouni, southern Mali. Simple analysis showed that while these can help farmers achieve food self-sufficiency, only a few farms can move beyond the $1.25/person/day extreme poverty level from crop production alone.
Ken Giller, Martin van Ittersum, Katrien Descheemaker and Pytrik Reidsma also presented about their work. The presentations are available upon email request to each author or via the conference website. The conference was an exciting event with lots of interesting interactions with colleagues from other institutions working on similar topics and we look forward for the next one!