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Why are ecological, low-input, multi-resistant wheat cultivars slow to develop commercially? A Belgian agricultural ‘lock-in’ case study

Pdf of the paper : Vanloqueren-2008-Why are ecological

The use of multi-resistant cultivars allows a significant reduction in fungicide use in low input cropping systems. However, many major wheat cultivars used in Europe remain sensitive to frequent diseases and require fungicide protection. This paper aims at understanding the factors explaining the low level of adoption of multi-resistant wheat cultivars in Wallonia (Belgium). Cultivar adoption has been an important topic of research, but few analyses have been done in Europe in the past decades. We used a systems approach combining a survey among stakeholders in the food chain and a systematic analysis of the publications of extension services. We identified twelve factors impeding wider adoption of multi-resistant cultivars. These factors explain why current wheat cropping systems are maintained in a ‘pesticide lock-in’ situation, an economic concept that could be used more frequently to study agricultural innovations. Considering these intangible ‘barriers’ to current and forthcoming innovations is a first step towards a more comprehensive policy to promote sustainable agriculture. Similarities between Wallonia and France are discussed and methods of promoting wide use of resistant cultivars are proposed.

Unlocking the agricultural systems: the example of agroecological research and innovation systems

A talk at the EU conference on Designing the path: a strategic approach to EU agricultural research and innovation.

EU_Designing the path_EN from Philippe Baret on Vimeo.

Slides : 150127_Innovation_Baret

Related content

On principles of agroecology (in French)

On socio-economic principles of agroecology

On lock-ins : Vanloqueren, 2008 and Vanloqueren, 2009.

On funding of organic farming

Clarifying the socioeconomic dimensions of agroecology: between principles and practices

Version pdf Article Dumont 2016


The concept of agroecology is being mobilized increasingly. However, its socioeconomic dimensions receive little attention from academia. This study helps to clarify the socioeconomic principles of agroecology by first identifying a list of principles in popular and scientific literature and, as a second step, by putting the principles to the test of a qualitative study of two Belgian organizations. Agribio is a grain cooperative, and Les Grosses Légumes is a network of consumers, farmers, and the members of an association set up to organize the production and distribution of vegetable boxes. Semi-directed interviews of the various actors linked to these organizations were conducted and then analyzed through an approach inspired by the convention theory in order to reveal the principles that the stakeholders have adopted. The main findings are then made explicit by analysis of four strong agreements (which concern the two organizations’ marketing schemes, a Participatory Guarantee System set up by Les Grosses Légumes and Agribio’s flour mill).

The two case studies show the gap that exists between the principles that describe the horizon of agroecology and the principles that are actually put into practice by the parties in the field through various transition pathways.


A Horizon 2020 project with a wide partnership of European and African research actors. We will explore the different pathways for agricultural intensification in Africa.

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Role of input self-suffi ciency in the economic and environmental sustainability of specialised dairy farms

A paper published in  Animal en décembre 2014 : S1751731114002845a

Increasing input self-sufficiency is often viewed as a target to improve sustainability of dairy farms. However, few studies have specifically analysed input self-sufficiency, by including several technical inputs and without only focussing on animal feeding, in order to explore its impact on farm sustainability. To address this gap, our work has three objectives as follows: (1) identifying the structural characteristics required by specialised dairy farms located in the grassland area to be self-sufficient; (2) analysing the relationships between input self-sufficiency, environmental and economic sustainability; and (3) studying how the farms react to a decrease in milk price according to their self-sufficiency degree. Continue reading