Landscape Ecology

, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 433–446 | Cite as

Combining farmers’ decision rules and landscape stochastic regularities for landscape modelling

  • Noémie SchallerEmail author
  • El Ghali Lazrak
  • Philippe Martin
  • Jean-François Mari
  • Christine Aubry
  • Marc Benoît
Research Article


Landscape spatial organization (LSO) strongly impacts many environmental issues. Modelling agricultural landscapes and describing meaningful landscape patterns are thus regarded as key-issues for designing sustainable landscapes. Agricultural landscapes are mostly designed by farmers. Their decisions dealing with crop choices and crop allocation to land can be generic and result in landscape regularities, which determine LSO. This paper comes within the emerging discipline called “landscape agronomy”, aiming at studying the organization of farming practices at the landscape scale. We here aim at articulating the farm and the landscape scales for landscape modelling. To do so, we develop an original approach consisting in the combination of two methods used separately so far: the identification of explicit farmer decision rules through on-farm surveys methods and the identification of landscape stochastic regularities through data-mining. We applied this approach to the Niort plain landscape in France. Results show that generic farmer decision rules dealing with sunflower or maize area and location within landscapes are consistent with spatiotemporal regularities identified at the landscape scale. It results in a segmentation of the landscape, based on both its spatial and temporal organization and partly explained by generic farmer decision rules. This consistency between results points out that the two modelling methods aid one another for land-use modelling at landscape scale and for understanding the driving forces of its spatial organization. Despite some remaining challenges, our study in landscape agronomy accounts for both spatial and temporal dimensions of crop allocation: it allows the drawing of new spatial patterns coherent with land-use dynamics at the landscape scale, which improves the links to the scale of ecological processes and therefore contributes to landscape ecology.


Land-use dynamic On-farm survey Conceptual model Data mining Crop succession Crop allocation Spatiotemporal analysis Landscape agronomy Landscape patterns 



We thank the CEBC for the land-use data-base. We are also very grateful to Benoît Lelaure, Gaëdig Méola and Camille Bernard, who carried out the farmer surveys in 2006, 2007 and 2010. The PhD of N. Schaller was funded by the Ile-de-France region through the DIM ASTREA and the PhD of E.G. Lazrak was funded by the Lorraine Region and the ANR BioDivAgriM project. We would like to sincerely thank Donald White for improving the English, Aude Barbottin and the three anonymous reviewers for their fruitful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Noémie Schaller
    • 1
    Email author
  • El Ghali Lazrak
    • 2
  • Philippe Martin
    • 1
  • Jean-François Mari
    • 3
  • Christine Aubry
    • 1
  • Marc Benoît
    • 2
  1. 1.AgroParisTech, INRA, UMR 1048 SAD-APT, Bâtiment EGERThiverval-GrignonFrance
  2. 2.INRAUR 055 SAD ASTERMirecourtFrance
  3. 3.LORIA, UMR CNRS 7503 INRIA-Grand-EstVandœuvre-lès-NancyFrance

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