[EXP] Mixed-cultivation benefits build over years
Soil fertility, biodiversity, crop yields all improved
Rural topic(s): Agroecology and agroforestry
Type: Success story
Date of writing: August 27, 2012
Author(s) of this page: Patrick Chalmers
Organization(s): Arbre & Paysage 32 - (Tree and Landscape)
French organic farmer Pierre Pujos explains how he transformed himself from a government crop chemicals scientist into an innovative organic farmer in southwest France. Keenly aware of the human health and environmental dangers posed by chemicals use, Pujos has experimented for more than a decade with shallow cultivation techniques on 80 hectares of land in the Gers.
Soil fertility, biodiversity, crop yields all improved by mixed cultivation
As well as adopting organic methods, he also plants mixed cereal and leguminous crops to help loosen compacted soils, improve soil fertility, increase organic matter content and local biodiversity. The approach nurtures and restores life the to soils, providing habitats for a balance between insect populations and restoring the predator-prey relationships that help prevent crop infestations and blight.
The area around Pujos suffers chronic soil erosion problems, made worse by the heavy clay soils, fields on slopes and conventional farming techniques that leave the earth bare for extended stretches.
Pujos has worked gradually, converting his fields one by one, allowing him to innovate and experiment each time. His oldest conversions show the best results by virtue of their cumulative improvement over the years. Pujos is now able to limit tractor passes in some fields to sowing and harvesting, meaning considerable savings in machinery wear and diesel use. So while his farm income is modest, his costs are even more so, meaning margins are up.
He has time to split his working week between the farm and the organic “biocoop” retail outlet in the departmental capital of Auch, which he also supplies with vegetables grown on his ground.
An innovative organic farmer who has built up his knowledge base from a grounding in conventional crop science.
Source of the information: author visit on August 20, 2012 that included extended conversation, questioning and video interviews in the context of the Sustainable Mystery Tour 2012.
Scale of intervention : Local
Keywords: sustainable agriculture, Biodiversity, organic farming, conservation and management of natural resources, Sustainable Mystery Tour 2012, improvement of biodiversity, improving soil quality, innovation, no-till, mixed crops