Agron. Sustain. Dev.
Volume 26, Number 1, January-March 2006
Page(s) 77 - 87
Published online 11 February 2006
Agron. Sustain. Dev. 26 (2006) 77-87
DOI: 10.1051/agro:2005062

Combining leeway on farm and supply basin scales to promote technical innovations in lettuce production

Mireille Navarretea, Marianne Le Bailb, François Papyc, Frédérique Bressoudd and Sophie Tordjmanc

a  INRA, Unité d'Écodéveloppement, Site AgroParc, 84914 Avignon Cedex 09, France
b  INAPG, UMR SADAPT, 16 rue Claude-Bernard, 75231 Paris Cedex 05, France
c  INRA, UMR SADAPT, BP 01, 78850 Thiverval-Grignon, France
d  INRA, Domaine du Mas Blanc, 66200 Alénya, France

(Accepted 9 November 2005; published online 11 February 2006)

Abstract - We analysed the technical and organisational leeway available to market gardeners and marketing firms in the Roussillon region, southeastern France, to meet two qualitative objectives: a longer marketing period and an increasing product safety by replacing soil chemical disinfection with solarisation. We surveyed 33 market gardeners producing lettuce and selling through three different marketing firms. Farmers used two alternative models to stagger harvests and three to introduce solarisation, based on increasing sheltered areas or number of lettuce cycles per year and reducing or abandoning summer crops. The choices of the farmers depended on their own leeway at the farm level or collective leeway at the supply basin level. Leeway at the farm level mainly depended on the area available under shelter and farm labourers' characteristics. The original result is that when no individual leeway is available or when its use affects the basic structure of the farm, marketing firms can enhance the technical innovations by developing closer economical and technical relations with their suppliers, orchestrating improved between-farm coordination and managing the diversity of technical systems and farms at the supply basin level. This study contribute to improving organisational effectiveness, firstly by proposing a method of analysis that is sensitive to the diversity of the resources available and operator strategies. Secondly, it can also be used to identify or predict the emergence of organisational and technical malfunctions. Finally, it broadens the use of farmer decision models, so far mainly developed in major cropping systems, to the case of market garden systems.

Key words: lettuce / plastic tunnels / solarisation / cropping cycle / decision / marketing firms / market gardening / farm system functioning / crop supply system

Corresponding author: Mireille Navarrete

© INRA, EDP Sciences 2006