From a local experience of minimum till to a strategy for no-til development OR what keys to CA adoption? Gerard Rass


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A presentation made at the WCCA 2011 event in Brisbane, Australia.

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From a local experience of minimum till to a strategy for no-til development OR what keys to CA adoption? Gerard Rass

  1. 1. From a local experience of Min Till to a strategy for No-Till development or… what keys to CA adoption ? The french case studyBrisbane, World Congress of Conservation Agriculture, Sept 2011APAD, Gérard Rass
  2. 2. Situation and problemCA adoption in France < 1 %Why ?Worldwide, high adoption exists in all conditions :cold/hot, dry/wet, all soils…=> Human factor ? Policies ? Strategy ?Study CA past history with international experts : Better understand the reasons for this low adoption Propose strategy to increase adoption
  3. 3. Summary of « Min-Till » evolution70’s to 2000 : objectives : high level of production,no risk, high inputs level, high invesment, withsubsidies.From the 90’s : environment : nitrates, pesticides,research, experts and ecologist NGO’s driven.Alternative to plough : min-till, combined drill…cost reduction / machinery driven,no cover crops,no understanding of SOM, soil biodiversity…Adoption up to 30 / 40 %.Limited change vs plough, limited performance.
  4. 4. Evolution of CA = No-Till + cover crop systemsFrom 2000 : some pioneer farmers discovered Brazil(Semeato / AFD promoting)Some have persisted and got results,applying principles of CA :Zero-Tillage with continuously covered soil.Their neighbours have still not adopted despite resultsWhy ?
  5. 5. Constraints of an ordinary french farmerIgnorance of what exists around the world,belief he cannot…Psychologically dependant (neighbours, unions,research, experts, extension services, coop…media, NGO’s…)Subject to regulators : ex : N limitation => noSOM improvementNo appropriate inputs (specific seeds, fertilizers…)No support for information nor experiments(private or officials) 95 followers, 5 % leaders…
  6. 6. Attitude of stakeholders in EuropeMedia do love organic farming as THE model topromoteNGO’s put pressure on mediaPoliticians follow media : organic as a modelAdministrations follow politicians : limit pesticides andN use, promote tillage as a substitute to herbicides…Official scientists are paid by administrationLeading farmers unions follow politicians (subsidies)Food industry follows the market : greenwashing…Supply companies follow the market (99 % tillage)
  7. 7. What can No-Till farmers do ?Obtain good results on their farms : profit, soil, water,biodiversity…Assess them : but how ?Communicate to influencial politicians and media. How?Lobbying : APAD motivated a Member of European Parliament. The Eu Commission initiated a study about CA : the SoCo project (2007-2009) ECAF has been able to demonstrate benefits of CA
  8. 8. The SoCo project : a successConclusion : very positive about the need tosupport CA in Europe (2009). is an answer to political need of CAP for : macro-economical performance, profits on farms, social needs, environmental management of territories = sustainability, Reduced public budget.BUT : all is forgotten now !!!!The competition was more present.
  9. 9. What have we learnt ? The loosing strategy : • An association of experts (APAD 1998) • addresses big farmers unions, established organizations, scientific institutions…, • with a broad varieties of « CA » concepts = Min Till The winning strategy : • A No-Till farmers association (APAD 2010) • addresses citizens and policy makers • with a clear CA (No-Till) model + benefits We must be present closer to policy makers !!!
  10. 10. What can No-Till farmers do ?Obtain good results on their farms : profit, soil, water,biodiversity…Assess them : but how ?Communicate to influencial politicians + media, how ?Needs :1. Assess Sustainable Agriculture2. Communicate, and be present all the time
  11. 11. Assess Sustainable Agriculture, and communicate : APAD has created IAD, Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (France) Private organization, farmers driven : No-Till farmers, No-Till farmers associations, Private companies : Semeato, Bertini, Coop Nouricia, PRP, Syngenta, Monsanto. Experts support : ECAF, FAO, CA Community, AFD… A set of indicators for Sustainable Agriculture, A report of proposals for policy makers: « Agriculture 2050 » An annual International Conference about Sustainable AgricultureThis has given more audience and influence to APAD No-Till farmers
  12. 12. IAD indicators : how they have been made and whatthey bringThe indicators were selected in 2008, internationally andlocally, based on criteria of relevance, neutrality, occurrenceand result measurement.Ultimately, after 2 years testing on 160 farms, we settled ascorecard and dashboard made of 26 indicators grouped into7 themes.In IAD report : « Agriculture 2050 starts here and now », areexplained : The model of sustainable farming production The criteria for Sustainable Production The ecosystem services A mechanisms of PES (Payment for Ecological Services)
  13. 13. The model : based on the 3 fundamental functions ofthe ecosystem
  14. 14. 26 indicators assessing the key relevant parameters of farming activityTheme 1: economic viability Theme 3: efficiency of input use EBITDA per ha and/or per IFT ‐ Pesticide treatment livestock unit frequency index EBITDA/labour unit NPK balance (nitrogen ‐ Production costs per ha or phosphorous ‐ potassium) livestockunit Energy balanceTheme 2: social viability Energy independence rate Full‐time equivalent working Water consumption (irrigation) hours Food autonomy rate (1,800 hours/year) Yield ha, livestock farm SI ‐ Satisfaction Index
  15. 15. IAD Indicators (continued)Topic 4: Greenhouse gas Theme 6: water quality GHG level NO3 level ‐ boreholes andTheme 5: soil quality wells Yield/ha UAA NO3 level – rivers Yield/ha main fodder area Theme 7: biodiversity Soil tillage index Soil utilisation Annual soil cover rate Biodiversity surface area Organic matter level Crop diversity Soil biological activity STOC "birds" (common bird mapping) STERC "insects" (common insect mapping)19 of these indicators are able to measure directly or indirectly the ecological services in accordance with the scientific references available in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
  16. 16. Scorecards for sustainable agricultureindicators
  17. 17. Mechanism of Payment for Ecological Services (PES)example on APAD farms with 12 indicators
  18. 18. Results after 3 years :160 farms assessed,Several partners from supply or food industry involved to use IADindicators,3 high level international conferences on Sustainable Agriculture inSenate in Paris, with high level official sponsors, and internationalspeakers of CA community (thanks to them !).Report Agriculture 2050 circulated among french experts andGovernment, in EU Parliament and Commission.Some recognition in France for IAD indicators ofSustainable AgricultureEngagement of some stakeholders of agriculture
  19. 19. Stakehlders : everyone must be involved in sustainable agriculture Citizens / Policy makers Soil management Food FertilizersGenetics No-Till Farmers Food industry Machinery Feed industry Plant protection 27
  20. 20. We have alliances with some supply companiesIAD To improve results on farms
  21. 21. We have alliances with food / feed industry Citizens / Policy makers Soil management Food Fertilizers Genetics No-Till Farmers Food industry WEST cluster (*) Machinery Feed industry Plant protectionWEST : Well Eating To drive consumers demandSustainable Territory 29
  22. 22. We have a project partaken with some Membersof European Parliament ECAF To enable good policies, & give the signal from the top
  23. 23. BUT : opposition to CA is still very strongPolicy makers do not consider farmers testimonies asvalid in front of recommendations of scientists.Official scientists have a dominent influence on policy makers. Local scientists usually object to CA : « non organic, non natural, uses pesticides… ». They ignore good CA practices, use old references of Min-Till They do not collaborate with experienced No-Till farmers (« not invented here » syndrom). From bad No-Till, they produce bad data.Pivate sector is reluctant to move : « CA is too narrow scope, no market, »
  24. 24. Need for organizational improvement at European levelStronger National Associations in key Eu countries, driven by No-Till farmers and CA experts, supported by companies A real movementAn organization of influence in Bruxelles, near of the EU Parliament and EU Commission, representing No-Till farmers, but also able to bring expertise on their behalf, Proposed : the European Council for Sustainable Agriculture A real presence, with political proposals
  25. 25. The key need : a strong group to advocate for SA and CA to European Union :A European Council for Sustainable Agriculture in Brussels,with 3 pilars (IAD model) : Farmers : ECAF farmers from key EU countries, • to drive, and advocate with the legitimacy of their results and practical experience, CA Scientists : • to support scientific debates, and fight objections of local scientists, ECAF experts international CA community (=> you ), supported by high reputation international agencies (United Nation) Private companies : input industries, machinery, fertilizer, crop protection, genetics…, supporting CA. Include IAD and WEST cluster (food and feed industries)
  26. 26. Missions of the European Council for SustainableAgricultureMonitor EU and national policies : • Audit their performances vs sustainability criteria • Publish reports and recommendations to policy makersAdvocate for CA to EU Parliament and CommissionMake local missions and audits, on demand :ex : water quality in France,Provide data and studies when needed (ex : C credits…)Participate in studies (tender bids from EU : ex : indicators)Provide to local operators : • strategic advices, • speakers for conferences, • communication with media
  27. 27. The challenge for sustainability is global. It needs a global governance. We shall loose or win together. Thank you 33 6 07 40 42 59