Historically, agriculture has been exposed to the vagaries of the weather. It is inherently vulnerable and highly dependent on weather conditions. This is all the more true today. The climate change which has been observed for several years now creates more and more frequent extreme episodes. A climatologist expert reported that the last six years have been the hottest for 150 years and in particular 2020. To cope with these upheavals, the agricultural world has undertaken a major overhaul of its model and its practices.
Often singled out, it is accused of being the source of pollution and it is said that its activities largely contribute to the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. Complicated position for a sector whose objective is to feed humanity.
At a time when information circulates at full speed, agriculture is, today, the object of strong expectations on the part of society. For that, she had to adapt, reinvent herself. It is what it undertook, for some time now, by modernizing itself thanks to tools which will bring it into the era of "restorative agriculture" .
It seems to be moving away more and more quickly the time of traditional agriculture with our peasants of yesteryear so dear to the more than twenty years. The yield per hectare is no longer the benchmark for players in the sector. From now on, we must also think in terms of carbon emissions, we must adjust the varieties, we must consult the technological decision-support tools. In short, you have to learn a lot of things.
Heavy rainfall in some places opposes areas where water scarcity is sorely felt. This poor distribution of the rains forces the agricultural sector to operate an efficient management of this essential resource. It is necessary to be able to store water when it falls in abundance to be able to irrigate all year round when periods of drought set in. To alleviate this ever-increasing water stress, farmers are investing in technical solutions such as irrigation equipment with ever-higher performance, as well as in management tools. However, these solutions are not without their difficulties and as the scientific director at Arvalis, Stéphane Jézéquel reminds us, “this requires the support of the actors of society around a common agricultural and food project, and may prove to be very expensive for farmers. "
As a reminder, “Arvalis - Institute of Vegetable is a French agricultural technical institute having the statute of association law of 1901 , member of ACTA , carrying out agricultural applied research, financed and managed by the producers of cereals, apples of soil, flax, tobacco and fodder, with the support of inter-professional organizations (Intercéréales, GNIS , FNPSMS, CNIPT , GIPT, CIPALIN) and research funding funds (CASDAR) - source: Wikipedia -
In addition, water stress leads to an essential preliminary study in order to establish the right choice of varieties to work. For this, farmers need to be advised and supported. If we take the example of cereals, Stéphane Jézéquel explains that: “Arvalis has acquired cutting-edge experimental equipment to study the tolerance to water stress of varieties (Phénofield, phenomenobile, PheBe, etc.) and works with French breeders to provide farmers with varieties better suited to dry conditions ”.
Farmers can also rely on technology to advance their businesses. This is the case for what are called ADOs or decision support tools. These are techniques allowing: "to adjust the treatments, thanks to the modeling of the growth of the plants to predict the stages of culture and the risks of disease according to the weather forecast, thus making it possible to map the state of nutrition wheat crops thanks to remote sensing by satellite to know the dose of fertilizer to be applied (or not) to the right place and at the right time ... ". It is even possible to" calculate in real time the state of the reserve in soil water, but also the estimated dates of the stages which have an impact on the crop's sensitivity to water stress. ”
These tools are invaluable assets for supporting the ecological transition of agriculture and making it “switch to precision agriculture offering more responsiveness and visibility for production and, consequently, attempting to secure income a little more. "
Like all other sectors of activity, agriculture is not immune to the essential objective: decarbonization. Here again, agriculture is meeting the challenges in order to reduce its carbon footprint, in all areas, including logistics, which accounts for a significant part.
From the very essence of its activity, agriculture has the keys to achieve it. As Philippe Dubief, farmer and president of the Passion Céréales association, points out: “Field crops are real carbon sinks. Agricultural products can naturally capture and store carbon in biomass and in soils, thanks to the natural mechanism of photosynthesis. "
Moreover, certain techniques have been developed and show real effectiveness. Let us quote, for example, the establishment of plant cover. The method consists of covering the ground with vegetation cover between two main crops in order to trap the carbon. According to data provided by Arvalis: “the cutlery stores an average of 240 kg of carbon per hectare each year. "
Another practice is particularly interesting. Intermediate crops for energy or CIVE. These crops have an energy destination such as anaerobic digestion and thus replace fossil carbon. Its principle is simple as explained by the member of the association: "they are positioned between two main crops, in winter (sown in late summer and harvested in spring) or in summer (sown in summer and harvested in the summer). autumn). Three crops are thus produced in two years (two food and one energy).
Moreover, in the same spirit, it is important to know that a: "low carbon field crop methodology was submitted at the end of 2020 and is currently being validated by the Ministry of Ecological Transition". “In the short term, this would make it possible to calculate the carbon credit of field crops, which could then be offered by project promoters for purchase from any company and community that seeks to offset its emissions. "
In the end, we can see that the entire agricultural sector is mobilized to lead an efficient and sustainable ecological transition. The challenges are numerous and sizeable in a rapidly changing sector, but each player takes the necessary measures to meet them one after the other. No longer endure but act to be the masters of their own destiny and bring their fantastic professions towards what Stéphane Jézéquel calls: “a nourishing and unifying agriculture.