Over the last 30 years, advances in forage crop development have progressed in the wake of the remarkable Green Revolution of the sixties, which engineered major increases both in the quality and quantity of forage resources in order to satisfy as best possible the increasingly demanding needs of livestock producers and to feed increasingly high-performing animals. For some years now, this approach has reached a limit both as regards the pollution risks generated by production methods and the quantitative saturation of markets. Agriculture has been assigned new functions, which have not yet been fully integrated into the production systems, as scientific investigations have not yet taken them fully and explicitly into account. People are beginning to consider agricultural production from "environmental" and societal" angles, but environmental and societal processes are not being systematically incorporated into the knowledge models being developed. Revisiting our research and thinking patterns demands that we address agricultural production and particularly forage production, which is our concern here, as a component of the management of an agricultural (rural) territory designed to ensure the sustainability of its ecosystems as well as the economic and social viability of farming activities.
It must also contribute to the maintenance of rural life, an indispensable constituent of society. The classical, "commodity sector" approach, which has prevailed for over 30 years, is unable to contribute to this new vision of the role of grasslands and forage areas, although it must be pursued and is still justified. It needs to be completed and enriched by a "territorial" approach that will highlight the "other functions", which interfere with production stricto sensu. The balance between these different functions is to be achieved through the definition of adapted agricultural policies. The conference will include an opening session, five work sessions, each including a plenary session, a poster session and three parallel sessions consisting in short oral presentations selected among the offered contributions, and a mid-conference tour.
Each plenary session will include: 1) a Key-Note Address which will present the questioning to research from the end-users from the different functions arising from grasslands and; 2) two main scientific contributions which will present the possible contributions of research to meet these concerns.