Converting to organic viticulture increases cropping system structure and management complexity
Impact factor: 4.503 (Year: 2017)
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Anne Merot, Jacques Wery. (1/6/2017). Converting to organic viticulture increases cropping system structure and management complexity. Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 37: 19.
Organic viticulture is an effective cultivation method that can reduce the environmental impacts of grape growing while maintaining profitability. For some vineyards, simple adjustments can suffice to make the conversion to organic farming; however, for most, major changes in system structure and management must be implemented. Here, we showed for the first time that converting to organic viticulture impacts vineyard complexity. We used six complexity indicators to assess modifications to cropping system structure and management: number of fields, number of difficult-to-manage fields, vineyard area, number of field interventions, number of technical management sequences, and number of management indicators. These six indicators were assessed through interviews carried out with winegrowers from 16 vineyards between 2008 and 2012. Changes in vineyard performances during conversion were also measured. We demonstrate that conversion to organic viticulture increased the complexity of vineyard structure and management for the 16 vineyards surveyed. While this increase allowed agronomic performances in all vineyards to be maintained, it also came with an increase in labor requirements (of up to 56%) compared to conventional agriculture. We conclude that the six indicators are appropriate for assessing changes in vineyard complexity and could be extended to all agricultural systems to better anticipate the implications of organic farming conversion for a farm’s biophysical, technical, and decisional subsystems.