A crop simulation model supporting multiple ecosystem services analysis in apple orchards (Constance Demestihas)

ISHS Secretariat
Constance Demestihas

The rising concept of ecosystem service has highlighted the importance of non-marketed performances delivered by ecosystems. In fruit production, providing acceptable food production levels while preserving natural resources and functions is currently a major challenge, and can be analyzed from the ecosystem service concept perspective. Apple orchards appear to be an interesting study field, as perennial production strongly impacts biogeochemical cycles and pest management within apple orchards deals with both market regulations and reduced use of pesticides. In this study, we considered four ecosystem services: fruit production, soil nitrogen availability, climate regulation based on carbon sequestration and nitrogen denitrification prevention, and maintenance and regulation of the water cycle including water quality. Multiple ecosystem services present different types of relationships depending on the interactions occurring among their underlying ecosystem functions, as well as on the agricultural management and pedoclimatic conditions that impact them. We described these relationships using ecosystem service and ecosystem function indicators and quantified them with a crop simulation model: STICS. The model was parameterized and evaluated on two experimental apple orchard sites in the south-east of France, each consisting of three different cropping systems and different soils and climates. Correlations between ecosystem functions and ecosystem services were investigated, while considering the effects of agricultural practices and pedoclimatic conditions. N denitrification and leaching prevention appeared to be in conflict with yield and C sequestration, especially through the nitrogen absorption function. Nitrogen fertilization management and planting density had an important impact on the delivery of multiple ecosystem services. However, pedoclimatic conditions also strongly contributed to the provision of services. For each of the nine studied cropping systems, it was therefore a combination of multiple factors that delivered a specific ecosystem service profile. Experiments need to be carried out on a larger set of apple orchard cropping systems in order to perfect the model parameterization and to analyze further relationships among agricultural practices, ecosystem functions and ecosystem services.

Constance Demestihas won an ISHS student award for the best oral presentation at HortiModel2016: V International Symposium on Models for Plant Growth, Environment Control and Farming Management in Protected Cultivation in France in September 2016.

Constance Demestihas, INRA - UR 1115 PSH (Plantes et Systèmes de culture Horticoles), 228 route de l'aérodrome, CS40509, Domaine Saint Paul - Site Agroparc, 84914 Avignon Cedex 9, France, e-mail: constance.demestihas@inra.fr

crop simulation
Young Minds Award Winners