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Du territoire aux agriculteurs, approche technique et sociologique du maintien des prairies dans un contexte d’élevage périurbain de plaine. Enquête auprès d’éleveurs de la partie nord de l’agglomération de Rennes

Abstract : Grassland use and areas are facing a paradoxical situation In France. Their areas have decreased since the 1950’s due to agricultural revolution, mainly in regions where cattle farming is dominant. They have been replaced by maize forage or crop productions in spite of grasslands benefits for farms and territories and incentive and support measures developed at various scales (European, national and local). However in some local areas, a maintenance or increase of grassland areas has been observed for the last decade (2000- 2010). My aim was to study the reasons of grassland maintenance crossing animal sciences and sociology at territory and farm scale. My case study is based on three ‘cantons’, the smallest French administrative scale, in the suburban area of Rennes (Brittany). The work is organized in three parts using conceptual frameworks and methodologies led separately and discussed in a fourth part. It contributes to interdisciplinary studies using technical and social sciences studying evolutions of agricultural practices in the long term. The first part aims to understand: (i) the agro-ecological factors and historical and socioeconomic contexts that led to the upholding of grassland areas in this region since 1950; (ii) the farming systems involved in this upholding and the grasslands functions mobilized. The work is based on landscape observation and retired and actual farmers’ interviews. The study highlights a dairy specialization of the territory due to the early development of the dairy sector close to Rennes (in comparison to the rest of Brittany). Since the 1990’s, the dairy farms have evolved to diversified forms of forage management in relation to new society expectations and the development of innovative dairy chains. Finally, grassland maintenance seems due to a diversity of forage systems using grasslands. The second part is a long term and process modeling of 15 dairy farms trajectories based on the productive and the grassland use trajectories studied along the farmer career. This work shows that the forage system diversity comes from three types of trajectories increasing grassland use: (i) broken trajectories based on dairy specialization, (ii) step-bystep trajectories using grassland mainly for their zootechnical functions, (iii) stable trajectories using few grassland areas in the forage system. The third part is based on a sociological analysis of the way of thinking of the farmers of the same 15 dairy farms. This work shows that grassland is considered as useful forage in the diet of dairy animals. The historical dichotomy between maize and grassland built in the 1970s seems to be over. The professional networks are the key factors for the changing use of grassland. There is not direct link with social networks and farmers grassland uses in farms. However the suburban context impacts the farmers, strengthening or questioning their forage practices. By crossing the results of the three parts of my work, I show there are some types, some uses and some ways of thinking of farmers that are in favor of grassland maintenance and others are refractory. It makes possible to think about new ways for grassland development in territories. It implies for the stakeholders to be coordinated to develop actions at territory scale to use grasslands in agro-ecological transition.
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Timothée Petit. Du territoire aux agriculteurs, approche technique et sociologique du maintien des prairies dans un contexte d’élevage périurbain de plaine. Enquête auprès d’éleveurs de la partie nord de l’agglomération de Rennes. Sciences agricoles. Institut agronomique, vétérinaire et forestier de France, 2017. Français. ⟨NNT : 2017IAVF0011⟩. ⟨tel-02595388⟩

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