MESH - Methods, concepts and evaluation of multi-performing horticultural systems

MESH - Methods, concepts and evaluation of multi-performing horticultural systems

The research of the axis aims at designing new ways of production combining  the principles of agronomy and ecology in order to respond to environmental issues and to develop a sustainable horticulture (Mesh axe team).

The MESH axis adopts a systemic approach aiming at integrating the different components interacting in horticultural agroecosystems (i.e. crops, weeds, companion plants, crop parasites and their natural enemies, cultural practices, and environment) at different time and spatial scales.

The research objectives of the axis are:

- develop approaches and tools to design innovative horticultural cropping systems and ideotypes  

- evaluate innovative systems with regard to their agronomic, economic, environmental and socio-technical performances. Particular attention is paid to production quantity and quality criteria, to the impacts of combination of agronomic practices (introduction of companion plants, irrigation and fertilization management) on the functioning of agroecosystems, and to various ecosystem services (food production, pest regulation, water / nitrogen / carbon regulation cycles).

The axis uses different approaches and methods collaborating with the other axes of the PSH Unit:

- The integration of mathematical models developed in the Unit (link with the CQFD and CBC axes) with our knowledge on practices actually used in the field,

- Evaluation of the effects of agricultural practices, including the introduction of companion plants, on different communities of pests and natural enemies (in connection with the CBC axis)

- Analysis of conflicts and synergies between performance criteria in order to develop optimal combinations of practices. This work would lead to a tool to help designing new cropping systems that offer the best trade-offs (production, protection, soil fertility) in given production contexts and under the impact of climate change.

- Different approaches, often associated, of design and evaluation:

o A design by prototyping and the implementation of system experiments in arboriculture (peach orchard systems and a new apple/peach orchard planted in 2023) and in market gardening (experiments in laboratory and under tunnels)

o Model-assisted design through the coupling of crop models and multi-objective optimization methods allowing in silico design of technical or landscape scenarios and the search for varietal ideotypes

Modification date : 22 June 2023 | Publication date : 21 February 2023 | Redactor : Sébastien Mercier