Case Study

Générations Terre: Towards a pesticide-free agriculture – the farmers of Natural Parks are committed!

Contact name

Mathieu Bonnave (+32 (0)69/77.98.78 - [email protected] ) - Inès Van Den Broucke (+32 (0)85/71.28.92 - [email protected] ) - Maxime Doffagne (+32(0)63/22.78.55 - [email protected] )

Institution name

Scheldt Plains Nature Park, Burdinale-Mehaigne Nature Park and Attert Valley Nature Park.

Region & country

Plaines de l'Escaut Natural Park (31, rue des Sapins - 7603 Bon-Secours), Burdinale-Mehaigne Natural Park (6, rue de la Burdinale - 4210 Burdinne) and Attert Valley Natural Park (107, Way of Freedom - 6717 Attert). Wallonia - Belgium

Summary

The objective of this pilot project in the Walloon Region is to show farmers that it is possible to cultivate profitably while significantly reducing (between 30 and 50%) the use of phytosanitary products on their farms.
Through this objective, the project aims to improve the sustainability of agricultural operations by reducing dependence on phytosanitary products.
This reduction will be made possible by a change in agricultural practices facilitated by personalized and independent support for volunteer farmers, as well as by regional activities adapted to farmers’ expectations.

Visit of a sorghum plot and exchange of innovative agricultural practices between farmers in Jollain-Merlin (PNPE)

Plaines de l'Escaut Nature Park

Background of the project

– Within farms, the majority use of phytosanitary products in an intensive and unreasoned manner.

– Lack of independent support for farmers in the use of phytosanitary products and the problem of interested advice from technical sales representatives in the traditional sector.

– Negative image of the agricultural world by citizens (farmers = polluters)

– Personalized and independent support for farmers

– Territorial animation adapted to the expectations of farmers

– Improve the sustainability of farms

– Improve the image of agriculture

Solution and actions taken

Through this project, which began in 2019, farmers receive regular, free personalized advice for 5 years. To do this, the independent advisers of the Natural Parks follow the plots of farmers in order to analyze and propose alternative and optimized technical itineraries in terms of the use of PPPs. Farmers also participate in specific training, study days and exchanges of good practices. In addition, they are valued by the general public for their investment in the project.

Farmers volunteering for the pilot project are supported by an agricultural advisor active in each Natural Park. This agricultural adviser plays the role of local coordinator of the project and intermediary between the farmer and the structures able to provide independent technical advice (in particular and mainly the pilot centers and CRA-W). It oversees the monitoring and collection of field data throughout the duration of the project.

Other institutions or parties involved

The project is taking place within three pilot nature parks: the Plains of the Scheldt Nature Park, the Burdinale-Mehaigne Nature Park and the Attert Valley Nature Park.

Partnerships:

CRA-W

Pilot centers

Natagriwal

Protect’Eau

CARAH

Walloon Federation of Agriculture

FUGEA

Results

22 farmers were mobilized in the 3 natural parks

The risks taken by the farmers are always borne by them, but the risks are minimized and managed thanks to the support of the advisers.

The data was collected during the first year of the project

A usage indicator has been developed in collaboration with the project partners

An objective analysis method has been put in place in order to be able to return the results to farmers and offer them alternatives to conventional routes.

Challenges

Mobilize volunteer farmers and establish a relationship of trust

Risk management to test alternative practices is the responsibility of the farmer

Collect data prior to the start of the project to determine an initial situation of these farmers

Develop an objective indicator and a method for analyzing the use of plant protection products

Lessons learned

The relationship of trust with farmers is paramount for the smooth running of the project.

The decrease in the use of PPP occurs gradually over time as a result of experiments carried out by farmers and it is necessary to have a vision of the farm at the scale of the rotation in order to characterize this decrease.

Farmers lack the time to efficiently and regularly monitor their fields on their own.

Contact name

Mathieu Bonnave (+32 (0)69/77.98.78 - [email protected] ) - Inès Van Den Broucke (+32 (0)85/71.28.92 - [email protected] ) - Maxime Doffagne (+32(0)63/22.78.55 - [email protected] )

Institution name

Scheldt Plains Nature Park, Burdinale-Mehaigne Nature Park and Attert Valley Nature Park.

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Partners

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