Innovative cropping systems

Feedstock production has an important weight on the overall sustainability of the logistics chain. It is therefore necessary to design and assess innovative cropping systems facing specific requirements for biomass production. This task aimed at assessing the effects of various cropping systems based on biomass crops (i.e. the effect of both crop sequence and crop management) on production and environment (through a set of indicators) for a wider range of soils and weather conditions than currently documented in the literature.

Two design workshops involving local experts and scientific experts were organized in the supply area of the two case study of the LogistEC project: the first was held in Dijon (France) in March 2014 and the second in Miajadas (Spain) in December 2014. For the Bourgogne Pellets case study in France, the main goal that the cropping systems needs to fulfil is to decrease the greenhouse gas emissions by 75% compared to the most widely practiced cropping systems (with an oilseed rape-wheat-barley crop sequence). For the Miajadas case study in Spain, two goals were identified with the local experts: saving water and energy (by 50% compared to the cropping system practiced in the study area, i.e. involving a maize-tomato crop sequence).

Four cropping systems including Miscanthus x giganteus as an energy crop were designed for the Dijon plain and one cropping system was designed for irrigated land in the supply area of Miajadas. In the Dijon plain, the cropping systems designed achieved good results regarding environmental and energy indicators, mainly because Miscanthus x giganteus requires low quantities of N fertilizer and pesticides, and stores carbon in the soil. However, a trade-off needs to be found among (i) environmental and energy impacts and (ii) profitability and food capacity. In Miajadas, including rainfed crops (such as cereals) allowed to achieve the goal previously defined about water savings. The results will be detailed in an upcoming deliverable.

Reading of personal ideas by facilitators in one of the cropping systems design workshops ((c) C. Loyce INRA).