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Understanding regional dynamics of mixed crop-livestock agricultural systems to support rural development in South-western France uplands


Understanding regional dynamics of mixed crop-livestock agricultural systems to support rural development in South-western France uplands



Cahiers Agricultures 19(2): 97-103



ISSN/ISBN: 1166-7699

The Coteaux de Gascogne region, an upland area in south-western France, is a site where studies related to the future of landscapes and the sustainability of natural resource management are well documented. The local agricultural system is induced by a "house centred" society with the particularity of passing on the inheritance and farm estate identically from one generation to the next. This system generates a mosaic landscape made up of field crops, grasslands and woodlots. Local agriculture has experienced deep changes since the 1950s in relation with modernization and farm enlargement processes. Traditional farming systems were very diversified and turned towards subsistence. Nowadays, farming systems are market-oriented mixed crop-livestock farming, in which cattle is the main species raised. We have started a participatory research with local stakeholders for prospecting the future of livestock farming in the study area. We carried out a spatially explicit and exhaustive survey of the farms in 4 adjoining villages to assess the variety of family-farms, their agricultural land-management and their changes over recent decades. In this paper we present an initial typology assessing the current variety of the family-farms structure and functioning. The types of spatial and functional organization of farm territories appear to depend on farm size and access to land resources. In current socio-economical conditions, difficulty for farm transfer at the time of a farmer's retirement and competition between crop and animal productions appear as main topical issues that challenge the future of local livestock farming. Their impacts on the sustainability of the local livestock sector and on landscape characteristics are major issues that will be considered in the modelling and scenarios of land-use and landscape change to be worked out in a subsequent step of the participatory research project.

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