Agroforestry market gardening: a strategic choice to improve sustainability in agroecological transition?
Among the various forms of agroforestry, spatial combinations of fruit trees and diversified vegetable growing (also called market gardening) are currently experiencing strong growth in France. The SMART project, which brought together several research teams and development organisations, aimed to explore these systems, taking into account the technical, agro and socio-economic dimensions/traits. The results of the surveys and observations carried out among farmers associated with this project showed that these systems mainly concerned farms engaged in short food supply chains for which diversity was a central element for commercial strategy and performance. Diversification of products is therefore a central justification for the intercropping of fruit trees and shrubs with vegetables. SMART also sought to assess the effects of synergies and competitions of agroforestry, as perceived by the farmers. The vast majority of them considered that intercropping fruit trees and vegetables did not create a major problem in terms of work organisation. They considered that it did not create competition which could have a negative impact on the productivity of crops. Their certainty in this respect was rather limited, given the generally short duration of their experience. However, the assessment they were making today led most of them to consider that the choice of agroforestry was fully justified and could be recommended to other market gardeners. These first results showed the need, when evaluating such systems, to adopt dynamic and holistic viewpoint on the different performance levels, allowing to consider the evolution of the trade-offs between advantages and disadvantages of such type of agroforestry on the long-term basis.
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