Investigating agricultural diversification: INRA-CSIRO collaboration

March 25th, 2019

Francesco Accatino and Joao Pedro Domingues from the National Institute of Agricultural Research (INRA) in France visited the CSIRO Global Food and Nutrition Security group in March 2019 for an INRA-CSIRO collaboration.

Francesco is a Research Scientist whose research investigates trade-offs and synergies between ecosystem services. Joao Pedro is a Postdoctoral Researcher who investigates livestock sustainability using multi-metric indicators.

The visit progressed a collaboration between the two institutions that started in 2018, which supports short visits for Australian and French researchers to enable better solutions through shared knowledge and joint research.

Katharina Waha, CSIRO Research Scientist, said that despite the joint project only being new, great relationships have already been formed.

“It has been exciting to discover the deep and complimentary knowledge of my INRA colleagues on the topic of diversity and diversification in European farming systems,” said Katharina. “It would have taken me years to get to the same conclusions already known by my INRA colleagues as they have access to excellent data and have already done some research in the research area,” she said.

Cyrille Rigolot, collaborating Research Scientist with INRA who visited Brisbane in 2018, said that the scientists in this collaboration are driven to find sustainable pathways for agriculture to produce enough food while minimising the pressures on the environment.

“There is a lot of research that focuses on the trade-offs between food production and ecosystem services at multiple scales under climate change,” said Cyrille. “Through our work together we have confirmed the role of farm diversification as an important strategy for ensuring food security,” he said.

Continuing from this, Francesco and Joao Pedro’s visit aims to further develop the interest of both organisations to better understand the role of crop and livestock diversity for food and nutrition security at different spatial scales. In particular, they are interested to better understand how challenges, such as climate change, might affect food and nutrition security – and how crop and livestock diversity can enhance resilience to these challenges.

The visit will enable both CSIRO and INRA to summarise benefits and trade-offs of diversification and to develop an agent-based model to better understand the dynamics in smallholder systems and at the landscape scale. Furthermore, it will assist Francesco and Joao Pedro to develop a better understanding of Australian agriculture, and develop new research opportunities.

As a part of the exchange, Francesco and Joao Pedro, along with Katharina Waha, Cecile Godde, and Lindsay Bell visited with farmer Rob McKenzie near Millmerran, southern Queensland to discuss farm diversification and risk management. This visit enriched their understanding of diversification opportunities and challenges in the Australian context. Cecile and Katharina will visit INRA in April to continue the collaboration.

Photo credits: Cecile Godde and Jeda Palmer.