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Last update: May 2021

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Sustainable PEst Control In Fabaceae-rich Innovative Cropping Systems (SPECIFICS)

"Investments for the future" Priority Research Project "Cultivate and protect differently" (PPR-CPA)


Pesticide-free farming systems require a profound change from present crop protection using curative methods against pests and pathogens, to biodiversity-based strategies aimed at reducing pest and pathogen pressure through more systemic and agro-ecological approaches. Grain legumes, key species at the interface of the agro-ecological and food transitions, are good candidates for diversifying cropping systems. They produce seeds rich in protein and are able to acquire nitrogen through symbiosis with nitrogen-fixing bacteria present in soils. Increasing the production of legumes in Europe would therefore reduce our use of nitrogen fertilisers and the greenhouse gas emissions linked to it. It would also contribute to the diversification of arable crops, increase the functional diversity of agro-ecosystems and, potentially, induce less pest pressure for other crops.


SPECIFICS aims to identify and evaluate various levers to allow for a transition towards pesticide-free and legume-rich farming systems, by searching for new sources of resistance and new defense mechanisms in legumes, by incorporating more biological diversity over time (rotation) and in space (intra- and inter-specific intercrops, agro-ecological infrastructures, etc.) and evaluating options for the promotion of these systems. SPECIFICS combines a wide range of skills from agronomists, geneticists, pathologists, entomologists, ecologists, economists and sociologists to design varieties, cropping systems, methods of evaluation and transfer to the stakeholders, to ensure economic and agronomic sustainability of pesticide-free farming systems. 


SPECIFICS brings together 12 research and education units from nine public organisations: UMR Agroécologie, UE Epoisses (INRAE Bretagne-Franche-Comté) ; UMR IGEPP, UE La Motte (INRAE Bretagne-Normandie) ; UMR IRHS (INRAE Pays de Loire), URGI, LISIS (INRAE Ille-de-France) ; UMR AGIR (INRAE Occitanie Toulouse), UMRT BioEcoAgro (INRAE Haut de France), UE Bourges (INRAE Val de Loire) ; LEVA (ESA Angers) ; UMR LEM (IESEG Lille)