The French wheat and other cereal growers’ association (AGPB) and the French Biodiversity Agency (OFB) have drawn up guidelines for enhancing biodiversity in cultivated fields.
Agriculture can be part of the solution for preserving biodiversity. Farmers work with living matter on a daily basis and their practices are key to maintaining animal and plant biodiversity. Within the overall context of biodiversity loss, farming and hunting stakeholders are acting throughlocal initiatives to contain the phenomenon, especially because it affects emblematic species (Grey Partridge, Skylark and Corn Bunting, for example).
Within the context of the Agrifaune programme, the AGPB and OFB have worked on a joint project to promote practices which reconcile agronomics, economics, the environment and wildlife.
For over a year, the AGPB and OFB have conducted a survey with some hundred farmers, mainly cereal growers, to identify relevant local initiatives. This involved questioning qualitatively farmers on the the reasons why they adopt sound practices, as well as their advantages and limitations. In 2019, 87 practices were identified. Within the scope of its strategic orientation, the AGPB has chosen to develop 9 symbolic practices appropriate for crop producers. These initiatives involved extensive work with farmers and experts (INRAE, OFB, Arvalis Institut du Végétal) to verify their effectiveness from a scientific vantage point and draw up information sheets based on these findings.
The good practices highlighted include: improving the ecological quality of field edges, the patchwork of crops, land-plot planning, alternative management of grassy areas, protection of wildlife during agricultural work, ground cover and the refurbishment of farm buildings. The nine information sheets drawn up highlight the extensive knowhow with regard to biodiversity preservation in an agricultural environment. These sheets are publicly available on the AGPB website and the OFB technical portal.
“Biodiversity is a priority issue for cereal growers. The objective of the AGPB is to show that cereal growers are real biodiversity stakeholders. We want to promote practices which help to reconcile the economy, agronomy, combatting climate change and biodiversity. Biodiversity concerns everyone, we should recognise and reward those who act in its defense!” Éric Thirouin, AGPB President.
“Diversifying the patchwork of crops is essential for restoring biodiversity in cultivated farming areas. Not only does it enable the saving of numerous species, but it also ensures the production of ecosystem services for farmers and society as a whole.” François Omnès, Deputy Director of the French Biodiversity Agency’s Stakeholder and Citizens Directorate.
The Agrifaune programme has been run since 2006 by a collective including the OFB, the National Federation of Agricultural Holders' Unions (FNSEA), the Permanent Assembly of Chambers of Agriculture (APCA) and the National Hunters’ Federation (FNC). All these stakeholders work together on issues such as field edges, intercropping, mortality due to agricultural work, viticulture and mountain pastoralism.