An “agroecological infrastructure” is the term used for any agroecosystem’s habitat in or around which a spontaneous vegetation, essentially composed of biennial, multi-annual or perennial species, or a sown cover crop, called ‘service cover crop’ and intentionally not harvested, develops. An agroecological infrastructure is a “semi-natural habitat” according to scientists, and is close to regulatory terminologies such as “fixed element of the landscape” or “area of ecological interest” but is not an equivalent. It can take various forms:
(i) linear such as the alignments of trees and their grass strips on the edge or in plots, forest edges, hedges, banks, low walls, ditch borders, streams …;
(ii) areal such as wet meadows, meadow orchards, rangelands, wastelands, groves, wetlands …;
(iii) punctual such as ponds, springs, isolated trees, rocks …
An agroecological infrastructure is the permanent or intermittent living place which allows reproduction, food, refuge, estivation or wintering, of biological groups which belong to the six realms of life (archaea, bacteria, protists, fungus, flora, fauna). It therefore actively participates in the preservation of biodiversity and the establishment of the “Green and Blue Framework” for the connectivity of environments by allowing the circulation of species and genetic mixing, guarantor of adaptation to climate change. An agroecological infrastructure also participates in the completion of all or part of the cycle of water, of carbon (which it contributes to sequester), of nitrogen, and of all other mineral elements, future nutrients of microorganisms and plants. It therefore contributes to sustainably promote the agricultural production function, by reducing the use of certain inputs (pesticides, fertilizers, water) thanks to ecosystem services of biological regulation (e.g. biological control of pests) and provision of resources (e.g. soil fertility or microclimate favourable to crops and livestock) delivered by beneficial associated biodiversity.
References to explore
Ministère de l’Environnement, de l’Energie et de la Mer. 2012. F- Infrastructures agroécologiques.