Analyzing farming systems diversity: a case study in south-western France

J. P. Choisis, C. Thévenet, A. Gibon


The huge changes in agricultural activities, which may be amplified by the forthcoming Common Agriculture Policy reform, call the future of crop-livestock systems into question and hence the impact of these changes on landscapes and biodiversity. We analyzed relationships between agriculture, landscape and biodiversity in south-western France. The study area covered about 4000 ha and included four villages. We conducted a survey of 56 farms. Multivariate analysis (multiple factor analysis and cluster analysis) were used to analyze relationships between 25 variables and to build a typology. The type of farming (beef and/or dairy cattle, cash crops), size (area and workforce) and cultivation practices, among others, were revealed as differentiating factors of farms. Six farming types were identified (1) hillside mixed crop-livestock farms, (2) large ‘corporate’ farms, (3) extensive cattle farms, (4) large intensive farms on the valley sides, (5) small multiple-job holdings, and (6) ‘hobby’ farms. The diversity of farming systems revealed the variable impact of the main drivers of change affecting agricultural development, particularly the enlargement and modernization of farms along with the demography of agricultural holdings.


farming systems; farm typology; Hills of Gascony; mixed crop-livestock systems; multivariate analysisMixed crop-livestock systems, Multivariate analysis

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DOI: 10.5424/sjar/2012103-533-11