The aim of the Arvalis farmer network is to use available knowledge and expertise to promote conservation agriculture practice (direct drilling into cover or mulch). This should improve the efficiency of production, resulting in more yield with less inputs.
Why this network?
- For the farmers: to test out innovations from Arvalis in the "real world" and document successes and failures; to spread their knowledge and experience to other farmers.
- For Arvalis: to learn from expert farmers; to challenge their own assumptions about progress by testing out their results in the field.
Who takes part in the network?
The network was established in 2013/14 by Lucien Séguy, a pioneer of conservation agriculture (SCV - Semis direct sur couverture végétale permanente = direct drilling into cover or mulch) and ex-researcher at the French agricultural research and international cooperation organization CIRAD.
Its members are all volunteers who are keen to work together and learn from each other about how to optimize the conservation agriculture system. The network does not represent a single region of France, but brings together a growing number of farmers with a common interest in conservation agriculture.
How does the network work?
The network functions on an ad hoc basis. There is an annual workshop where participants share experiences on the evolution of practice in their area. There are also field days where limiting factors are discussed and solutions identified by the group. Some specific analyses may be conducted with scientists to improve diagnosis of problems and to help identify solutions.
Communication within the group is facilitated by electronic communications and a WhatsApp group has recently been created to help farmers share observations from the field.
- Stéphane Jézéquel (arvalis regional manager for PACA and the Gréoux-les-bains experimental station) is the national coordinator of this network, which has now several national and international connections (in Portugal, Spain, Italy, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco)