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Agroecology and industrial ecology: two complementary alternatives for animal production in the 21st century

INRA Prod Anim 27(2) 89-100


1 Université de Lorraine - INRA, USC0340 Animal Fonctionnalités des Produits Animaux, F-54505 Vandoeuvre-lès-Nancy, France
2 INRA, UM1388 GenPhySE, F-31326 Castanet-Tolosan, France
3 Université de Toulouse, INPT ENSAT, UM1388 GenPhySE, F-31326 Castanet-Tolosan, France
4 Université de Toulouse, INPT ENVT, UM1388 GenPhySE, F-31076 Toulouse, France
5 Montpellier SupAgro, UMR868 Selmet, F-34060 Montpellier, France
6 INRA, UMR868 Selmet, F-34060 Montpellier, France
7 INRA, UMR1048 Sadapt, 16 rue Claude-Bernard, F-75231 Paris, France
8 AgroParis Tech, UMR1048 Sadapt, 16 rue Claude-Bernard, F-75231 Paris, France
9 INRA, UMR1348 Pegase, F-35590 Saint-Gilles, France
10 Agrocampus Ouest, UMR1348 Pegase, F-35000 Rennes, France
11 INRA, UMR1213 Herbivores, Theix, F-63122 Saint-Genès-Champanelle, France
12 Clermont Université, VetAgro Sup, UMR1213 Herbivores, BP 10448, F-63000 Clermont-Ferrand, France


Agroecology and industrial ecology can be viewed as complementary means for the design of sustainable animal farming systems: agroecology by stimulating natural processes to reduce inputs, and using diversity to increase system resilience and provide ecosystem services. Industrial ecology mainly aims to close system loops within a territory, thereby reducing demand for raw materials and lowering pollution. Animal farming systems have so far been ignored in most agroecological thinking. We propose five principles applicable to animal production systems: i) adopting health management practices that minimize the use of chemical drugs, ii) decreasing the inputs needed for production by using grazing lands and by-products, iii) decreasing pollution by optimizing the functioning of farming systems, iv) enhancing diversity within animal production systems to strengthen their resilience, and v) preserving biological diversity and associated ecosystem services by adapting management practices. Based on four case studies, we show how these different principles can be combined to improve economic and environmental performance. We discuss opportunities and resistance to change what needs to be considered for the scaling-up of agroecological systems. Among these, we stress the motivation of farmers to break input dependency and the question of workload.

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