Agron. Sustain. Dev.
Volume 27, Number 4, November-December 2007
Page(s) 337 - 345
Published online 18 December 2007
Agron. Sustain. Dev. 27 (2007) 337-345
DOI: 10.1051/agro:2007014

A novel method for the sustainable management of wheat crops: exploration by simulation

M.-H. Chatelina, C. Aubryb and F. Garciac

a  INRA/ESR, 65 Bd de Brandebourg, 94205 Ivry sur Seine Cedex, France
b  INRA SADAPT, 16 rue Claude Bernard, 75231 Paris Cedex 05, France
c  INRA BIA, BP 52627, Auzeville, 31326 Castanet Tolosan Cedex, France

(Accepted 2 April 2007; published online 18 December 2007)

Abstract - Designing crop management strategies to meet both environmental and economic objectives is a growing preoccupation for advisers and researchers, in the move towards sustainable development. We describe here a simple and original method designed to facilitate this task and appropriate field experimentation. This method involves the use of a multi-stage procedure in which a simulation tool is used to explore a decisional space defined by an expert. As a case study, we designed crop management strategies for winter wheat in the Paris Basin. We aimed to maintain a high wheat yield of more than 9 t.ha-1 and grain quality whilst limiting the risks of nitrogen pollution by maintaining post-harvest soil nitrogen content below 30 kg.ha-1. The method was applied on two representative field situations with contrasting soil nitrogen supplies. We used the "DéciBlé" simulation tool to evaluate management strategies, expressed as sets of decision rules, for the possible technical choices such as cultivar, sowing date, sowing density and nitrogen supply. Our step-by-step approach involved progressive limitation of the decisional domain to be explored, and some of the solutions obtained were not intuitive. This method has two main novel features: (1) a simple design dealing with a complex problem, without reduction to a single judgement criterion and (2) results expressed as action plans similar to those implemented by farmers.

Key words: crop model / simulation / decision support system / winter wheat / exploration

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© INRA, EDP Sciences 2007