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The French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) has established an ambitious, multi-scale, agricultural experimental infrastructure (the CA-SYS platform). CA-SYS covers an area of 120 ha and will be initiated in autumn 2018.

The originality of CA-SYS is that it is explicitly conceived for the development and evaluation of new agroecological systems across agriculturally realistic scales. An agroecological system will comprise a matrix of fields of one (or a few) cropping systems over a number of years. These fields will interact with adjacent semi-natural habitats in the landscape (woods, hedges, grass margin strips, flower strips). This spatio-temporal arrangement of fields and semi-natural habitats will be considered as a coherent strategy, implemented to meet specific goals. The agroecological systems tested across CA-SYS will consist of three zones of manipulation of the amount of adjacent semi-natural habitats available to enhance the natural enemies of pests and four cropping systems combining a large diversity of farming practices (no-till & cover crop based-systems, tillage-based systems).

CA-SYS has ambitious objectives, including an increase in the multi-performance of systems (profitability and productivity identical to neighbouring farmers over a 10 year-horizon, low environmental impact), by maximising the use of biological processes (biological control of pests, improving nitrogen cycling) and reducing the use of inputs (nitrogen, water, pesticides).

The aims of CA-SYS are to:

  • i) design and evaluate new agroecological systems;
  • ii) study the transition from current farming systems towards these new agroecological systems, with goals that include agronomical performance, the evolution of farming practices and multi-performance criteria;
  • iii) breed new varieties adapted to agroecological conditions, for example tolerance to stressors and the enhancement of beneficial plant-microbe interactions;
  • iv) understand the ecological processes underlying the functioning of agroecological systems;
  • v) develop and adapt experimental methods for studying agroecological systems.

Download the brochure describing the CA-SYS platform here :

Find more detailed information on the CA-SYS platform here :


15 January 2018

Redaction: SC

CA-SYS Plaform at the Cover Crop Congress

CA-SYS Plaform at the Cover Crop Congress

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