Agroecology 1 min

Protecting crops through plant diversity

In a world increasingly focused on sustainable agricultural solutions, this book presents fresh perspectives and comprehensive insights. It delves into the effectiveness of crop protection strategies that leverage plant diversification within agricultural plots and landscapes. The book thoroughly examines both the challenges and opportunities associated with implementing these strategies. It is designed for a broad audience, including educators, researchers, students, agricultural stakeholders, land managers, environmental organizations, and concerned citizens invested in the future of our food and planet. Additionally, the digital version of the book is available for free.

Published on 11 June 2024

illustration Protecting crops through plant diversity

The advent of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides freed farmers from yield-limiting environmental constraints while simplifying agricultural fields and landscapes. The environmental and health impacts of this dominant model, as well as its interrelationships with climate change and biodiversity loss, are now well established by the scientific community.
Although there is increasing societal demand for agriculture that meets food demand while respecting the environment and human health, the agro-ecological transition of cropping systems is insufficiently engaged. One of the reasons put forward for this inertia is the lack of effective alternatives to pesticides to protect crops.
This collective scientific assessment looks at crop protection strategies based on plant diversification in agricultural areas and analyses the obstacles and levers to their adoption by farmers. It is part of the Écophyto 2+ plan, which supports the production of knowledge and tools needed to reduce synthetic pesticide use.
This book is intended for teaching professionals, researchers, students, stakeholders in the agricultural world, land managers, environmental organisations and associations, and any citizen interested in such issues.

Download the eBook (PDF)

  • Publisher: Éditions Quae
  • Collection: Matière à débattre et décider
  • Publication : 17 August 2023

The ebook versions in PDF or EPUB format can be downloaded free of charge from the publisher's website.

CASE steering: methodological and scientific coordination

  • Anaïs Tibi is a research engineer at INRAE. She coordinates the production of multi-disciplinary knowledge reviews to inform public decision-making on issues at the crossroads between agriculture, food and the environment.
  • Vincent Martinet is a research director at INRAE and Professor at the École normale supérieure Paris-Saclay. As an environmental and ecological economist, his research focuses on the sustainability of agriculture and the agroecological transition.
  • Aude Vialatte is a research director at INRAE and Director of the Dynafor Laboratory in Toulouse. As a landscape agroecology scientist, she develops a systems approach to assessing and promoting the natural regulation of crop pests.


Aude Vialatte Co-editorDynamics and Ecology of Agroforestry Landscapes

Vincent Martinet Co-editorUMR Paris-Saclay Applied Economics

Anaïs Tibi Co-editorDirectorate for Collective Scientific Assessment, Foresight and Advanced Studies


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Protect crops by increasing plant diversity in agricultural areas

Plant diversity – which includes everything from the use of varietal mixtures and intercropping to crop rotation, agroforestry, hedgerows and other semi-natural landscape elements – helps to regulate crop pests such as pathogenic fungi, weeds and insect pests with the aim of reducing or eliminating pesticides, all without lowering yields. Many barriers both upstream and downstream of the agricultural sector limit the use of these crop protection strategies, but public policies could be an important tool to encourage farmers to adopt such methods. These are the main findings of a collective scientific assessment carried out by INRAE at the request of the Ministries of Agriculture, Research and the Ecological Transition.

07 November 2022


“European Chemical Pesticide-Free Agriculture in 2050”: the results of a groundbreaking foresight study

PRESS RELEASE - Harnessing research to speed up the agroecological transition aligns with the objectives of the European Green Deal and addresses the strong demand from public authorities, stakeholders and society at both the national and European levels. For more than two years, over 144 experts investigated possible ways to eliminate pesticides from agriculture on a European scale for the “European Pesticide-Free Agriculture in 2050” foresight study. The three scenarios that were explored to promote changes in the agricultural and food system were presented during a symposium to discuss the findings. Some 1,400 participants of 64 different nationalities attended the conference on Tuesday 21 March in Paris, where remarks were heard from various French and European stakeholders in the fields of agriculture, regulation and policymaking, environment, and food. This groundbreaking attempt to weave together a larger narrative was bolstered by measured impacts on European food sovereignty and the environment for each scenario. Possible pathways forward are given for each scenario for the European and regional transition of the entire food system based on participatory workshops conducted in four regions in Italy, Romania, Finland and France.

21 March 2023


Bocage landscapes promote plant diversity in arable fields

PRESS RELEASE - Hedgerows bordering arable fields in bocage landscapes provide many ecosystem services. Yet, they are often perceived as breeding grounds for weeds, which are often regarded as undesirable. Researchers from INRAE, in collaboration with teams from the University of Rennes 1, CNRS and ANSES, have studied the impacts of bocage landscapes on weeds. Their results, published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, show that bocage landscapes favour weed diversity without increasing their abundance in arable fields. In fact, thanks to their positive effect on vegetation diversity, hedgerows could even promote sustainable weed management and the conservation of biodiversity in arable fields.

22 November 2022