The future of Mediterranean Livestock Farming Systems: Opportunity and efficiency of Crops – Livestock Integration
The Mediterranean agriculture systems have known increasing pressures that include strong demographic growth, urbanization, increasing demand for animal products (especially in southern regions), a demand for more safe animal products, and a high competition for land and water. In this context, pressures on biomass to feed animals raise many challenges and sometimes competition in the trade-offs in the use of resources (land, water, and nutrients) that can affect the sustainable development of these systems (Dixon et al., 2010). Meanwhile it is well recognized that the synergies between cropping and livestock husbandry offer many opportunities for the sustainably increasing production, by raising productivity and increasing resource use efficiency both for households and regions (Herrero, 2010).
However, one of the key-elements for sustainable crop-livestock system is to develop sustainable intensification methods focused on farming production. The process of agro-ecological intensification needs to take account and understand the functioning and dynamic of ecosystems, the profitability and feasibility of technical options, the social and technical viability of the new practices in liaison with the social and environmental system. This leads to integrate the interactions between the actors, their activities, the space and society.
In the process of the agro-ecological intensification applied to the project CLIMED, the challenge is not only to produce more with less harm to the environment. The ecological dimension must integrate the social, cultural and political dimensions by understanding the interactions between the societies and their environment.