Pascal Xicluna / agriculture.gouv.fr

A new tool developed in France allows farmers to adjust their farm work based on the reproduction periods of flowers and insects in their prairies. The name of the tool is Biotex, and it was developed through a partnership with the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, the Institute of Animal Husbandry (private institute of applied research and extension for the livestock sector) , and the National Museum of Natural History (that is also the scientific expert on biodiversity matters for the French Government) in order to aid farmers in better understanding the potential of biodiversity in their farms and the surrounding lands.

Prairie biodiversity is dependent on agricultural practices but also on landscape organization. Groves, mosaics of fields surrounded by hedges, built up over centuries by the genius of farmers, plays an important role in the movement of plants and insects. The hedges, connected to one another, encourage the mixing of genetic diversity of its inhabitants. To help farmers understand all of the natural mechanisms in play and to encourage them in their prairies and lands, this special diagnostic tool was developed.

The tool helps the farmer predict, in a simple and rigorous manner, the evolution of biodiversity in their prairies, by identifying different data points in its software. Through these results, the farms can adjust their farm work according to the reproduction periods of flowers and insects: Cutting a hayfield too early could prevent certain plants from reaching their flowering stage, preventing them from reproducing. Farmers can also use the tool to improve their management of refuge habitats, through a better organization of hedge, for example. The more hedges that encircle cow fields, for example, the more bats there will be to eat the insects that harass them.

From the scale of territories to that of individual land parcels, it is about appreciating the biodiversity in its totality. With the help of a technician, the farmer can fill out a questionnaire about his or her farm that takes into account both their lands and the agricultural territory in which the farm is located.