Jacques Eric Bergez, Jérôme Dury, Frédérick Garcia, and Arnaud Reynaud, “Cropping-plan decision-making on irrigated cropfarms: a spatio-temporal analysis”, European Journal of Agronomy, vol. 50, October 2013, pp. 1–10.
This paper describes an analysis of farmer cropping-plan decision-making. We surveyed 30 farmers to study the dynamics of their cropping-plan decision-making on irrigated arable farms. Using methods from cognitive science, we analysed the ways farmers managed uncertainty through planning and reactive decisions. In this study we show that representing cropping-plan selection only as a resource-allocation or crop-rotation-design problem is not sufficient to account for farmers’ decision-making processes. We show that cropping-plan decision-making does not occur once per year or per rotation, as is usually represented in models, but is a continuous process mixing design and adaptive activities. We describe the concepts that farmers use to plan cropping over time. We also highlight the importance of organising farmland into spatial crop-management blocks as a major determinant of cropping-plan strategies. We argue that deep understanding of these processes at the farm level is required before it is possible to model and design flexible and environmentally friendly cropping systems that fit with farmers’ reality.