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September 9th 2023

Assessing crop sequence diversity and agronomic quality in grassland regions

This study aims to provide an assessment of the diversity and agronomic quality of crop rotation/sequence, generalised grassland regions and regions with a high rate of organic farming. The assessment methods are applied to Famenne, Ardenne and the Jurassic region of Wallonia.

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Industrial inputs have replaced crop rotations for fertility and pest management in input-intensive agriculture, resulting in a high number of crop sequence permutations and negative impacts on ecosystems and human health. Strengthening diversified and agronomically optimised crop sequences is critical to promoting sustainable practices. Comprehensive crop sequence diagnosis methods play an important role in evaluating and improving current crop sequence practices. However, recent literature has focused on annual crops, leading to biased results in crop sequence analysis for organic farming and livestock regions, where multiannual temporary fodder crops are a key aspect of crop sequences.

This paper extends two methods of crop sequence analysis by including multiannual temporary fodder crops. By applying these generalised methods to a case study in the beef grassland regions of Belgium, using IACS crop data from 2015 to 2020, we reveal significant differences in the agronomic quality of the crop sequences across the territory and between organic and non-organic fields. In contrast to the existing literature, the inclusion of multiannual temporary fodder crops highlights the prevalence of high diversity and high agronomic quality sequences in livestock farming regions. Maize monoculture (of low agronomic quality), temporary grasslands (associated with high quality crop sequences) and organic certification are the main drivers of crop sequence quality in the regions studied.

The paper is available in Open Access (see section About this publication).

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