What does it mean to “produce in a different way”?
By “producing in a different way,” Stéphane Le Foll means bridging the gap between economic and ecological results. He wants to encourage the development of new environmentally-friendly agricultural models that are also cost-efficient. The initiative is a way to show that sustainable farming practices can have positive effects economically and ecologically.
Some farmers, engineers, technicians, teachers, institutions, and other people have already changed their way of living, learning and producing. They have adopted innovative practices that are more efficient, more environmentally-friendly and more sustainable.
What are the Goals of the Web Platform?
Many farmers have already found success in changing their way of producing. The cooperative platform is a way for individuals to share experiences and ideas in order to develop new agricultural models that are easily transferable to different fields.
Bertrand Hervieu, Vice-President of Alimentation Council and Marion Guillou, former President and Managing Director of INRA (National Institute for Agricultural Research) have been put in charge of this project by the French Minister for Agriculture.
These conclusions and ideas will contribute to the implementation of reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy in France.
More than just an inventory of initiatives, Stéphane Le Foll would like to identify appropriate vehicles for change and help implement ideas through laws and other regulations.
Indeed, the French Minister of Agriculture champions the agricultural diversity cause. He wants to develop agriculture established in French “terroir.”
This collective process could enable personal initiatives to become national models and more widespread practices.
The web platform is divided in four different types of initiatives:
- Growing in a different way
- Breeding in a different way
- Learning in a different way
- Living in a different way.
Examples of Successful Alternative Agricultural Models
Greenhouse tomato production with reduced pesticides
Pierre and Laurent Diot own three hectares (approximately seven acres) of greenhouse tomatoes at Mordelle, in Bretagne.
The whitefly is the major enemy of tomato farmers. The insect causes leaves to grow dark and unsightly, and can destroy the harvest.
They decided to experiment with a Dutch practice: reintroducing insects such as Encarsia Formosa or Macrolophus, which prey on whiteflies. They also reintroduced pollinator insects such as bees in order to increase their yield. Through using these practices, pesticide use was reduced by 90% without reducing the tomato yield!
Anaerobic digestion on a farm
Denis Brosset and Jean-Louis Vrignaud at Bois Joly, Vendée developed an anaerobic digestion system on their farm. They let manure and other natural wastes ferment in huge hermetically-closed pits. Manure is composed by manure from cattle and rabbits of the farm, grass-cuttings from local cities and rotten fruits and vegetables from local shops.
The “biogas” produced powers a diesel motor, which produces electricity that can be sold to EDF, a French electricity company. The biogas produces 30kW/h, which is enough energy to power 70 houses. This practice represents only 1 day’s labor every three weeks.
The heat from the motor is also used for heating their house and powering their farm and water, which saves them 4,000€ per year in energy costs.
After fermenting, manure can be used as a very high-quality natural fertilizer in place of chemical fertilizer, which lets them save 8,000€ per year.
They also save an additional 6,000€ per year by using natural fertilizer instead of straw for their farm.
To learn more about this web platform: