Agri-Bio: Associated crops -

Agri-Bio in Avesnois, return of associated crops!

I didn't know that time - or maybe it's because I wasn't interested - when farmers mixed certain crops on the same plots for one to benefit the other. The agriculture of previous decades, productivist, mainly focused on yield or investment issues (depending on) had moved away from these interesting methods especially from the point of view of yield ... We come back to it thanks to organic, and it's been good.

This is a conversation with a former farmer, recently retired, who told me about it, with real pleasure, as if he himself was proud of this development. He looked at the work of his young colleague organic farmer with envy, benevolence, and a more optimistic outlook on his profession in the years to come. He has seen many of these colleagues throw in the towel to the point of committing the irreparable and he knows the difficulties still present in many sectors and always participates in regional information meetings. But he considers that organic is a return to the real profession of farmers: to concentrate on his crops, to obtain a better selling price for his products. The subject of pollution is not discussed, it is still a taboo subject, but things are moving.

He remains lucid about the sector and the persistent difficulties, even organic, and to give me an example of one of his colleagues, a producer of organic milk, whose production is bought back at the conventional price and mixed with the production of other breeders because that "it would be too expensive to make a specific passage for this organic milk" ... To think about.

The principle of associated organic cultures:

Pea :

Growing peas on large plots is not easy. In fact, as long as the plant is young, all is well. She manages to stand up. But as the peas grow and increase in weight the weights tend to fold and more, harvested well in time, the pods can split open causing loss. Indeed, fallen peas are never harvested, lying peas are more difficult to harvest correctly, which again creates losses.

Wheat :

Wheat is "a little" in difficulty in France. Apart from the difficulties of resale prices, the seeds are not always at the top of the nutritional quality demanded by the agro-industrialists, in particular with regard to durum wheat in particular, that intended for pasta for example. Farmers are also faced with difficulties linked to the lack of yields from the land less than expected. The intensive cultivation method, the use of phytosanitary products to fight diseases and to nourish the soil and the plants in an artificial way, is undoubtedly not for nothing in this difficult equation.

One benefits from the other:

In this principle of combined organic crops, there is already good news: for both crops, the gain in yield of the plots is of the order of 15 to 20% higher. A suprise ? Not entirely. We already knew the value of mixing crops because in the past - rather distant - wheat and peas were associated, especially to improve the cultivation of peas. So on this side, the farmers were not in the unknown. For wheat it's a little different. Wheat is found to be less susceptible to disease when crops are mixed, maybe it makes sense, but it has to be demonstrated. It also benefits from the nitrogen supply that peas naturally provide to the soil. The soil, the surface of which is better covered, enjoys the advantages of the weather when it is there, without drying out the soils when it is sunny, and by feeding better on the rains.

Crops associated with the vegetable garden

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In the world of organic gardening, the concept of “intercropping” is well known.

  • Unlike agricultural or market gardening monocultures, it consists of cultivating plants together whose basic needs complement each other: type of soil, need for water or nutrients, root systems, cultivation period, etc.
  • So some plants have a positive or negative influence on each other. This method of natural cultivation, which originated in Germany, has proven itself for many years.
  • The originality of this book is to be very visual: all the associations of plants are illustrated at the different key moments of their culture, allowing to easily visualize the spacing of the rows, by which plants are replaced those which are harvested and at what time. of the year.

About the author:
The author, Christa Weinrich, is a Benedictine sister, responsible for the vegetable garden at Fulda Abbey in Germany. She has been cultivating vegetables there according to these principles for more than 50 years, and here gives us the fruit of her vast experience.

  • What are associated cultures?
  • Benefits of intercropping
  • Associated crops in rows
  • Associated crops in flower beds
  • Combine aromatics and ornamental plants
  • Crops associated with the orchard

Measurements in field crops

This video shows Agroscope's first trials for rice cultivation in Switzerland. By cultivating rice in temporarily flooded areas, production can be adapted to the site. It is also an opportunity to preserve endangered animal and plant species.

Wet croplands provide specific habitats for a whole series of animal and plant species that need environments of varying humidity to live. The Wet Crop Land project aims to propose solutions in the area of ​​conflict which is the promotion of biodiversity in agricultural areas, water pollution by nutrients and pollutants linked to agriculture, greenhouse gas emissions and agricultural production.

Rice cultivation is intended to generate income for farmers on land that is difficult to cultivate. At the same time, biodiversity should be promoted: Through cultivation that is as environmentally friendly as possible and as low as possible in auxiliary substances, as well as through the creation of environments for endangered animal and plant species that depend on it. alternating wetlands.

The Ordinance on Direct Payments provides in Article 82f-g for the payment of an annual amount per hectare for the reduction of herbicides on open land. This fact sheet provides information on the requirements, the registration conditions and the amount of the contribution.

This website brings together information on good agricultural practices for crop protection in the fields of field crops, pastures, arboriculture and viticulture. The content of this site is coordinated by AGRIDEA.

Summary of measures to encourage biodiversity in cropland with recommendations or conditions for implementation, information on contributions as well as the potential to promote wild plants and animals.

Biodiversity-friendly and resource-conserving production systems such as organic farming, extenso cultivation or SRPA animal protection programs are encouraged through additional contributions. You will find the necessary information here.

The spreading processes reducing emissions, the methods of exploitation which protect the soil as well as the use of a precise spreading technique in the field of phytosanitary products benefit from financial support. Here are the requirements and contributions for these measures.

Market demand for old varieties of cereals is increasing. ProSpecieRara is committed to the conservation of old field crop varieties and provides variety research tools, recommendations and other services.

The Erschmatt botanical garden multiplies local varieties of cereals, potatoes, aromatic herbs and rare plants from cultivated fields. They also provide farmers with seeds and orderly.

In this film by Patricia Fry, producers tell about their experiences with the cultivation of malt barley, rye, wheat, buckwheat and potatoes in mountain regions.

This publication presents various measures, such as lark windows or spaced seedlings in cereals, and their effects on the Skylark.

The cantonal environmental services can provide you with information on existing programs to promote biodiversity in arable crops.

The mechanical regulation of weeds protects the auxiliaries and other small animals and gives a chance to the messicole flora typical of cultivated fields. Videos and technical sheets show the different machines available and their use.

The combined cultivation of cereals and pulses not only increases yield security but also contributes to a diverse landscape.

Catch crops and under-sowing reduce the leaching of nitrates, contribute to the formation of humus and the fixation of co2 and promote soil organisms. They also provide protection and nesting sites for many animals.

Measurements in vegetable crops

The “Greenresilient” project aims to make the cultivation of vegetables under protection more efficient, ecological and robust. A combination of three approaches is currently being tested: flower strips are used to encourage auxiliary organisms, intercropping should allow better use of soil resources and make pest spread more difficult, and plant mulch should reduce the amount of soil. resources used in the production of plastic film.

Some seed companies have developed flower lawn mixtures that support several cuts.

ProSpecieRara publishes a variety catalog with many rare varieties of vegetables and aromatic herbs. For each of them, the site offers an information sheet.

The technical guide presents the strategy developed by FiBL for the control of the main pests of headed cabbage. The innovative crop protection strategy is based on the promotion of auxiliary insects using flower strips and companion plants, thus reducing the use of pesticides that harm beneficial insects.

The spreading processes reducing emissions, the methods of exploitation which protect the soil as well as the use of a precise spreading technique in the field of phytosanitary products benefit from financial support. Here are the requirements and contributions for these measures.

Organic farming, more productive than you think

A large study shows that the yield of organic farms can approach that of conventional agriculture.

Posted on December 10, 2014 at 01:01 a.m. - Updated on December 15, 2014 at 6:41 p.m.

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Despite its virtues in terms of respect for the environment and preservation of biodiversity, organic farming is often relegated to the rank of marginal alternative, definitely incapable of feeding the more than nine billion people on the planet. in 2050, of which a quarter on the African continent.

It is true that, at the end of 2011, it occupied only 37.2 million hectares in the world, that is to say only 0.9% of the total agricultural surface, even if, between 2000 and 2010, its territorial influence was multiplied. by 2.4. But its detractors blame it above all for its poor yields, compared to those of conventional agriculture.

However, an American “meta-study”, published on Tuesday, December 9, in the Proceedings of the Royal Society (the British equivalent of the French Academy of Sciences), somewhat revives the image of this method of cultivation which prohibits chemical inputs, fertilizers, pesticides and other phytosanitary products. She concludes that the productivity deficit of organic methods compared to intensive, or industrial agriculture, is less important than previous work asserted. And, above all, that it is possible to reduce this gap.


The last major international studies on the subject, conducted one by the Dutchman Tomek de Ponti, the other by the Canadian Verena Seufert, and both published in 2012, converged to indicate that the average yields of crop production are, in fashion. organic, 20% to 25% lower than traditional practices.

The signatories of the new publication, led by Claire Kremen, professor of environmental science and co-director of the Berkeley Food Institute at the University of California, say they sifted through three times as much data as their predecessors. They analyzed 115 studies from 38 countries, covering 52 plant species and covering 35 years.

Result of this panoramic analysis: the difference in productivity between organic and traditional is reduced to 19.2%. In addition, contrary to previous work, the authors do not find any difference between developed and developing countries, in terms of the respective performance of the two cultivation methods.

But the main lesson is that the differential is much smaller when organic farms use either combined crops (several plants cultivated on the same plot) or rotations: it then falls to 9% and 8% respectively. “These promising results, say the authors, suggest that an appropriate investment in agronomic research to improve the management of organic crops could greatly reduce or even eliminate the gap [with traditional agriculture] for certain cultures or regions. »


"Meta-analyzes of this type have the advantage of compiling a very large amount of data, even if, in this work as in the previous ones, information on the agronomic environments studied and on their fertility is lacking., comments Christian Huyghe, deputy scientific director in charge of agriculture at the National Institute of Agronomic Research. Its essential contribution is to confirm that in organic farming, diversification is essential to improve performance. "

However, he adds: “The time when we tried to oppose organic farming and conventional farming is over. Between the two, there is a whole range of agricultural practices, which must be consistent with local environments and needs. "

The fact remains that organic is obviously not the panacea likely to cover the food needs of humanity. “Our current agricultural system produces far more food than is needed to meet the planet's needs, recalls Claire Kremen. Eradicating world hunger requires improving people's access to food, not just increasing production. " But also to put an end to food waste, which represents nearly a third of world food production.

However, argues the researcher, “Increasing the share of agriculture using sustainable practices is not a choice, but a necessity: we simply cannot continue to produce food without taking care of the soil, water and land. biodiversity. "

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The best water fountains for cats and dogs

"Wirecutter" comparison. If our four-legged friends tend not to drink enough, this is also for practical reasons. Their water fountain may prove to be unsuitable for their needs, whether in terms of capacity, height and cleanliness. We tested 13 models for dogs and cats, here are our choices.

The best vending machines for dog and cat food

"Wirecutter" comparison. These devices allow you to have better control over your cat or dog's food, even when you are away. Discover our selection of the best models.

The best carrier bags for cats and small dogs

"Wirecutter" comparison. This selection of soft bags to wear over the shoulder will help you to travel at best with your animal, by plane or by car.

Controlling organic rumex

Photo: FiBL, Thomas Alföldi

Photo: FiBL, Thomas Alföldi

At the end of April, before weeding, the rumices are again clearly visible in the meadows. Rump removal is essential. According to the gross margins catalog, grassland farms spend an average of 6 hours per hectare. There are however farms which, on certain surfaces, spend several times more time there without reaching the end. Some farmers resigned themselves and put their rump spades in a corner, just preventing the rump from reseeding. It should be noted that the farms which have big problems generally already had a lot of rump before the conversion to organic farming. Whether or not you are organic has nothing to do with this problem. These farmers have learned to live with the rumex. Their farms are "in equilibrium at high altitude". This is of course also a solution, but, in some regions, we continue to look askance at organic farmers who have a lot of rump. Not to mention that the rumex strongly reduce yields.

On the other hand, organic farmers who can claim not to have rumex problems are quite rare. These are, for example, breeders who do not adapt grazing to animal welfare but to weather conditions. They usually have years of fierce struggle behind them and have spent countless hours digging up rumices. Since they do not want to take the risk of another invasion, they periodically go around their plots to pull up any rump they find, and they no longer allow any flower stems to reach seed maturity. It works well, and it is even pleasant social work when there is only one rumex per square meter, but pulling up is a real torture when there is a rump per square meter.

There is little hope of discovering new rumex control techniques, and it is of little use anyway if nothing changes on the farm management side. The rumex "electronic destroyer" is still in the testing phase and still suffers from all kinds of childhood illnesses. And the “Wuzi” (a hydraulic machine that crushes rumex on the spot) is expensive, heavy and noisy. It allows for a great return per person hired, but that's it. The rumex spade remains the most important, the most effective and the cheapest tool for the control of the rumex.

To know more:

Data sheet "Rumex control" (FiBL Downloads and online store)

Last update of this page: 12.10.2018

South-West organic grain sector: Maïsadour joins Agribio Union

Leader in organic grain collection in France with 10% of the market, Agribio Union, a 100% organic entity, is consolidating its development strategy with the arrival of a new partner, Maïsadour, which joins the 5 structures already associated.

Nicolas Lecat, Managing Director of Agribio Union.

Created in 1999, Agribio Union until now brought together 5 associated structures: Coop Agri Bio, Euralis Céréales (Euralis), Alliance Occitane (Arterris), Terres du Sud, Union Actéo (Vivadour). As of July 1, 2014, the arrival of a 6th member, Maïsadour, will strengthen its growth plan. With this new member, the leading French collector of organic cereals and oilseed crops plans to increase, in 2014, from 33,000 t to 40,000 t of organic grains collected, and to ramp up, reaching 80,000 t in 2020 (i.e. just under 2% of the total volume collected by its 5 members).

Agribio Union in 17 departments
Chaired since its creation 15 years ago by Paul Baradat, Agribio Union is present in 17 departments of Aquitaine, Midi-Pyrénées, Languedoc Roussillon and has 800 organic farmers (including 30% organic and non-organic mixed), 20 employees and € 24 million in turnover in 2013 (steadily increasing). The Union organizes production on 25,000 ha, from advice to producers to the provision of supplies, it manages collection and storage in dedicated sites (capacity of 40,000 t including 10,000 t internally), and ensures the in the market of the whole production. " The outlets relate to human and animal food, with more than 30 different species to manage, specifies Nicolas Lecat, its managing director. It is a specific profession for which we have acquired recognized expertise. »

Organic at Maïsadour
A major cooperative player in the South-West, Maïsadour (1) has been involved in certified organic sectors since 2000, with 80 members who produce 6,000 tonnes of organic grains, 60% of which is corn. Its Sud-Ouest Aliment plant manufactures 8,800 tonnes of organic animal feed to supply an organic poultry sector of 520,000 heads. In organic, Maïsadour also develops field vegetables, sweet corn, peas, asparagus and hybrid seeds. "Through this membership, our members will benefit, for their cereals and oilseed crops, from the sales force of Agribio Union, underlines Céline Peillod, organic manager at Maïsadour. This makes it possible to pool human and material resources, and to participate in the process of structuring these sectors alongside other major cooperative groups in the region.. »

Agribio Union's new storage site in Barcelona du Gers will complement the 9,000 t Salvagnac in the Tarn site (pictured here), for a total of 25,000 t of internal storage, the rest being provided by services.

A new silo under construction
This membership is the result of a merger that has taken place gradually, in particular through storage, drying and trade agreements for the supply of Sojapress, the organic crushing plant of Terres du Sud-Maïsadour. " Our project to build a new silo made it possible to seal this partnership, thus involving the major cooperative players of Midi-Pyrénées and Aquitaine », Summarizes Nicolas Lecat.

Launched in 2010, the Agribio Union project materialized with the start of work in early June 2014. " Located in Barcelonne-du-Gers, at a strategic crossroads close to a motorway connection, in the western collection area, the silo will optimize the storage and logistics part of our activity », Rejoices Nicolas Lecat.

With a capacity of 15,000 t initially, for a potential of 25,000 t, this storage site will be adapted to organic constraints - strict health rules to avoid contamination and product diversity -, with 16 storage cells. 375 t to 1500 t in ventilation-emptying sheet piles, and 8 cells of 375 t with conical bottoms. The € 6.5 million investment is subsidized for 25% by the EAFRD funds and the Midi-Pyrénées and Aquitaine regions. " The silos used as conventional are not suitable, and their upgrading to standards is not easy for conversion, hence the interest of Maïsadour for this new storage structure », Adds Nicolas Lecat.

In order to open up to technicians from member cooperatives with little organic training and thus promote exchanges, Agribio Union offers mixed management of Maïsadour in the field. " This is an evolution, it is necessary to facilitate the exchanges between organic and conventional technicians, considers Nicolas Lecat. Openness is necessary if we want to advance conversions. The new storage site in Barcelonne-du-Gers should be operational from July 2015.

(1) Maïsadour: 8,000 farmers and 1.5 billion euros in turnover.

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