We are pleased to interview Guillaume Martin, research director in the Joint Research Unit for Agrosystems and Territorial Development at INRAE’s Occitanie-Toulouse centre, France.
He is the winner of the Agropolis Fondation - Louis Malassis 2021 International Science Prize in the "Young Promising Scientist" category.
"Ruminant livestock farming is subject to much criticism (high contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, etc.). It is confronted to global changes and related hazards, as shown by the regular droughts causing feed shortages on farms and the dairy crisis following the end of the European quota system. These criticisms and changes are affecting the resilience of ruminant pasture-based- and crop-livestock farms, i.e. their ability to cope with, adapt to and recover from the effects of these changes and related hazards, compromising their long-term sustainability.
My main focus is on producing actionable knowledge on innovative systems improving farm resilience, and ready-to-use methods and tools to identify the most resilient systems and pathways towards such systems. Driven by growing societal and political demand, agroecological farming is developing. I work at studying how agroecological farming could be a promising option to the long-term sustainability of ruminant livestock farms."
"Since my early career, my ambition has been threefold: (i) to develop tools enabling farmers to design adaptation solutions towards agroecological and resilient farming; (ii) to develop methods informing farmers and farm consultants on the most resilient agroecological systems and on pathways towards such systems; (iii) to explore the potential of innovative agroecological systems improving farm resilience. My research work focuses on farming systems and builds on three pillars: systems, interdisciplinarity and participatory approaches. This combination allows me to produce original knowledge, concepts and methods in my scientific field, but also actionable knowledge for stakeholders. This dual ambition is the essence of my scientific activity and my motivation for this work.
As an example, I coordinated the development of ‘Forage Rummy’, a board game integrating a simulation model aimed at designing and evaluating scenarios of pasture-based- and crop-livestock farms to be used in workshops of 2 to 4 people. The game is about combining material objects to build a scenario as a mock-up of a farm which, despite changes of weather conditions (possibly climate change scenarios), will achieve farmers’ goals. A farm simulation model instantly provides indicators to evaluate the farm scenarios designed."
"My objective is to contribute to the transition towards a sustainable agriculture by producing actionable knowledge, and ready-to-use methods and tools.
Farmers who used ‘Forage Rummy’ reported they had a better understanding of the adaptation challenges at the farm level and felt they had improved their ability to design adaptation solutions including in relation to climate change. About 150 game boxes have been sold to agricultural consultants and teachers. ‘Forage Rummy’ workshops stimulate lively debates, both with farmers and students, around adaptation issues from a systems perspective.
Results on the most resilient agroecological systems and on pathways towards such systems were presented in several workshops, farmer field days and professional events and followed by discussions on risk exposure, farm resilience and adaptation. These results also yielded a series of short videos describing agroecological transition pathways towards an improvement of farm resilience in the organic dairy farming sector. They are being used by farm consultants and teachers to illustrate the outcomes of these transitions and the agroecological systems to implement in order to achieve resilience."
"Developing a solid research rooted into the reality of farming and useful to practitioners."
"A recognition of the risks taken until now: working on groundbreaking research topics (e.g. farm transitions to agroecology), with novel methods (e.g. early development and use of serious games) and riskier stances (e.g. interdisciplinary and participatory research)."
"I am very grateful to have received this award. It will allow me to promote my work within the international scientific community. "