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[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.


Pierre Pujos, is an individual farmer who is also a member of, and supplier to, Biocoop Les Jardins D’Augusta in Auch, southwest France. www.biocoop-auch.fr/presentation. (arbre-et-paysage32.com/)


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

Places: France

Actors: farmer

Methods: exchange of good practices, outdoor learning, experimentation

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