Projects and initiatives presented at the European Conference "Climate-friendly agriculture for Europe: lessons from experience and levers for change"
Protocol for sustainable management of orchards aimed to reduce carbon and water footprint of fruits: transfer of knowledge developed during ten years of experimental projects in Basilicata region.
Angela Fiore. University of Basilicata. DiCEM Department (European and Mediterranean Cultures Department: Architecture, Environment, Cultural Heritages) - Fruit Growing Reserach Group Matera (Italy).
The project consists in the transfer to local farmers of the knowledge developed during more than ten years of research about sustainable management of olive groves, peach and apricot orchards and vineyards, in Basilicata region; the aim of substituting a conventional management with a sustainable one are: increasing/preserving soil fertility, reducing GHG emissions related to agricultural operations, reducing the external input of carbon and nutrients, valorising the internal resources of the orchards, optimizing the use of water. Our research group is actually developing a protocol for local farmers, containing the description of sustainable practices, together with the indication of the related mean advantage achievable in terms of carbon stored, GHG emission avoided, and water saving; the described sustainable practices can be grouped in the following categories: soil management (zero tillage, soil grass cover), fertilization management (use of organic compost, nutritive balance and controlled fertilization), plant management (winter pruning, green pruning, recycling of pruning material at field), irrigation management (water balance calibrated on the need of the orchard in relation to pedo-climatic conditions, controlled water stress, improvement of the efficiency of irrigation system, use of urban waste water).
The protocol will contain also a part dedicated to technicians, containing the guide lines for calculation of carbon and water footprint of fruit products along the whole productive chain, included the accounting rules for all the GHG fluxes between soil, plant and atmosphere.
LIFE+ oLIVE-CLIMA (LIFE11 ENV/GR/942)
Introduction of new olive crop management practices focused on climate mitigation and adaptation
Dr Georgios Koubouris. ELGO DEMETER- Institute for Olive Tree and Subtropical Plants.
The main aim of the project is to trial the introduction of new cultivation practices for tree crops in order to find a cost-effective means of mitigating and adapting to climate change. The project will focus specifically on olive-producing areas in Greece, investigating the potential of these areas to increase carbon sequestration by soils, and to reduce greenhouse gases emissions. In other words, in this project, a mitigation approach (enhanced CO2 uptake and reduced CO2 emissions) and an adaptation measure (increased soil quality) are tackled at the same time.
What are the objectives of Oliveclima:
1. To determine farming practices that lead to increased carbon dioxide uptake by plants from the atmosphere.
2. To take measures to reduce GHG emissions and other environmental impacts during crop production processes.
3. To reverse the trend of soil organic matter losses, erosion and desertification by measures that increase the rate of soil organic matter build up.
4. To improve the biodiversity and sustainability of the olive grove ecosystem.
5. To lower the olive oil production cost and to create added value from the standardization of a climate beneficial product.
6. To develop a set of easily measurable indicators that can be used to link farmer practices to the quantity of carbon stored in the soil.
7. To provide farmers and consumers with a clear and robust information system about the environmental performance during food production processes.
LIFE NITRATES (LIFE+10 ENV/ES/478)
Repercussions of agricultural practices on the nitrate pollution of inland waters
Luis Orcaray Echevarría. INTIA.
Nitrates are currently the foremost diffuse source of water pollution and such pollution affects every single European Member State to some degree. The increase in the concentration of nitrogen compounds is due to the excessive or unsuitable use of fertilisers and the waste generated by livestock farms.
In order to combat the problem posed by nitrate pollution, many administrations, including the European Union, have been forced to makes changes to their legislation, designing regulations to control farms. These new regulations mean it is obligatory to identify those bodies of water affected by notrate pollution and designate criteria to define vulnerable areas. They also require the development and implementation of action programmes to prevent, monitor, minimise and ameliorate the effects of nitrates in water.
The objective of this project is to study the impact of agriculture on water quality in order to define and promote best practices in the management of mineral and organic fertiliser, and thereby contribute to reducing and preventing the nitrate pollution of our waters.
LIFE+ sigAGROasesor (LIFE+ 11 ENV/ES/641)
Customized Advanced GIS Advisory Tools for the Sustainable Management of Extensive Crops
Gerardo Besga. NEIKER.
A major challenge for farmers and farm managers is to produce in a more efficient and sustainable way. Pressure on the land is increasing with the growing demand for food, but at the same time, key resources, notably water, are becoming increasingly scarce, and therefore input use efficiency is becoming a key aspect for farm management. Besides, environmental impact of agricultural practices has to be taken into account, so the farmers may take management decisions according to this factor.
Thus, the sigAGROasesor project aims to develop an online tool capable of displaying customised recommendations for extensive agriculture, in real time, and for specific areas of cultivation, on the basis of a series of detailed soil, climatic and management variables and values. The tool will provide recommendations on the following issues: crop varieties; sowing techniques; fertilisation; irrigation; and risk of plagues, diseases and weeds. Carbon and water footprint, nutrient and energy balances, as well as pesticide impact use will be calculated to provide information on the main environmental impacts.
The tool will be validated on around 600 plots of land in ten different regions in Spain. In this way, the agricultural sector will get a better use of resources, especially water and fertilisers, at the same time it aims toward the concept of smart agriculture.
LIFE AGROLCA-Manager (LIFE10 ENV/ES/486)
Environmental sustainability software tool for the agroindustrial sector
Olatz Unamunzaga. NEIKER.
The main objective of this project is to support the companies within primary sector, especially the SMEs, to be more sustainable by managing the main environmental impacts from the use of resources and generation of waste, while minimizing the environmental impact of their products` life cycle. This will be done by providing them a software tool for Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) targeted at agroindustrial sector.
The main specific characteristics of the LCA software will be:
1. Based on reliable software LCA tool like LCA manager ® used in other sectors (electrical-electronic).
2. Provide support for EcoInnovation performance (Environmental situation of the companies, level of legislation compliance and environmental innovation potential) and Ecolabelling and carbon Foorprint.
3. Accessible and user-friendly for the sector characteristics.
4. Specific Data Base with reliable and specific information.
5. New environmental aspects considered: leaching of nitrates to the water and application of phytosanitary products.
6. New methodologies to calculate environmental impacts adequately developed for the LCA based in recognized methods: legislation fulfillment, eco-labelling etc..
LIFE REGADIOX (LIFE12 ENV/ES/000426)
Atmospheric CO2 fixation and reduction of GHG emissions through a sustainable management of irrigated agriculture
Iñigo Virto. UPNA (Universidad Pública de Navarra).
The introduction of modern irrigation systems to enable agriculture in arid and semi-arid areas can bring significant economic benefits. In the region of Navarra alone, 22 300 ha have already been transformed into irrigated land and a further 30 000 ha are planned. This is despite the Ebro Valley having some of the poorest soils in Spain as regards carbon matter. However, these land-use changes - and, for example, associated introduction of fertilisers - can impact on GHG emissions and environmental services, such as carbon sequestration.
LIFE RegaDIOX aims to design, test, demonstrate and disseminate an improved model for sustainable management of irrigated agricultural areas. This aims to deliver positive effects on climate change through increased CO2 sequestration and reduction of GHG emissions.
The project will undertake six demonstration pilot experiences with different agricultural practices in Navarra. These will test and quantify their efficiency in increasing the organic matter content of soil and delivering a more efficient and sustainable use of nutrients, energy and water. This research thus aims to identify the best land-management practices for increasing soil carbon fixation and reducing GHG emissions.
Ultimately, the project hopes to contribute to a more positive impact on climate change from irrigated agricultural activities. The project hopes to use its results to inform related agricultural/environmental policymaking at regional, national and European levels.
Collective farm’s energy consumption analysis (dairy farmers)
Mathias Autesserre. QUERCY ENERGIES.
70 energy’s diagnostics has been realized in collective approach to optimize production systems of dairy farmers (sheeps and goats) who are members of an important cheese factory. This work was ordered by the factory in order to make both savings money and energy (showing links between both by the way), and introduce an adaptation in herd’s alimentation in reaction to climate change. Several collectives sessions have allowed to discuss and present solutions for energy savings and EnR investments; some investments of equipments have been made in group and a research on forage plants and their valuation.
Armelle Gac. INSTITUT DE L'ELEVAGE.
Grignon Energie Positive
Sophie Carton. AgroParisTech.
Grignon Energie Positive (GE+) is an applied research and development programme conducted by teams from AgroParisTech and the Céréopa, and based at the experimental farm of AgroParisTech in Grignon (30 km West of Paris). It deals mainly with fossil fuel scarcity and climate change issues in the agricultural sector. It aims à reconciling three objectives: reduction of the environmental impacts of farming activities, maintenance of farmer’s revenue and maintenance of farm capacity to feed people. GE+ assesses the advantages of agricultural techniques both on the Grignon farm and on a network of 24 farms in France. It develops farm-scale decision-support and environmental management tools. In Grignon farm, the greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumptions of milk production have diminished respectively by 20% and 35% in 6 years. The project also creates means of promoting, among the general public, knowledge and understanding of the situation of agriculture and its practices.
Agriculture and forest certification
Sébastien Conan. Ecocert.
ECOCERT is accredited by the Verified Carbon Standard as a VCS control body on the sectoral scopes 1-production of energy, 13-waste management systems and 14 – AFOLU (Land use and Forest management).
ECOCERT also verify projects for the GS CSA (climate smart agriculture) – Forest management and Afforestation/reforestation.
The existence of reliable methodologies developed for these standards is a keystone for the development of carbon projects in our countries (Europe).
Some of these initiatives could be adapted to national and/or regional context under a cost-effective perspective. Carbon finance could be a powerful instrument on the transition to a more sustainable agricultural model with lower GHG emissions as the heart of this change.
Example of some initiatives in France (French Livestock Institute / ARPE Midi-Pyrénées…)
LIFE+ IPNOA (LIFE11 ENV/IT/000302)
Improved flux Prototypes for N2O emission from Agriculture.
Simona Bosco. Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna.
The LIFE+IPNOA project aims at improving the monitoring instruments and methodology of nitrous oxide emissions from agriculture and at promoting the best agricultural management practices in order to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions in Tuscany. The IPNOA partners are West Systems S.r.l. (Coordinator), Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, INRA, Tuscany Region and the project lifetime started in 2012 and it will end in 2016.
The main objectives are: 1) to develop and validate two prototypes for measuring soil N2O fluxes and to improve the monitoring of N2O from agricultural soils; 2) to carry out field trials in two representative sites with the aim to identify the best management practices (BMPs) for reducing N2O emissions from the main arable crops of Tuscany; 3) to scale up these BMPs from field to regional level, through suitable modelling in order to identify and to promote the measures for an effective reduction of the N2O emissions.
Integrate energy and climate change in farmers strategy, a new approach for advisers
Philippe Touchais. APCA - Chambres d'Agriculture France.
The issues related on energy, Greenhouse Gases (GHG) and climate change are questioning farmers increasingly. In front of these new questions from the field, French Chambers of Agriculture, in partnership with ADEME, developed and tested in 2012 a methodological approach so that agricultural advisers have skills and know-how to insure a strategic support of the farmers in front of climate change.
The proposed method consists of an adaptation of the approach AVEC® developed by AC3A (DAGRON, 2008). Advisers acquired it within the framework of a formation-action of 3 days, and tested it with support of a tutor with 8 voluntary farmers. This method leans on several stages and tools dedicated for :
- identify the trajectory and the functioning of the farm
- understand the choices of the farmer and define with him strategic goals
- bring technical data on the climate change (indicators and simulated scenarios)
- co-construct with the farmer scenarios taking into account climatic uncertainties and analyze their impact on energy and greenhouse gases (diagnosis Diaterre®)
This approach allows farmers "to see more clearly" and "to choose with more hindsight". The method bases on a use of tools by farmers and on advisers with a role of guide of their reflection. Brought out of influencer's role, these understand better the motivations and the reluctances in change of the farmers as for the evolution of their system. However, the appropriation of the energy and climate change issues remains closely connected to the awareness upstream of farmers on the subject.
Effects on the quality and environment of the different systems of dairy small ruminant farms. Employment of economic, social and environmental indicators and final classification systems (RTA2010-00064-C04)
Inmaculada Batalla. NEIKER.
The main objective of this project is to do a multicriteria assessment of sustainability of sheep and goat farms, through the selection of indicators (economic, social and environmental) and to establish indicators of milk quality and its correlation with different production systems.
For this purpose, a sustainability assessment tool (NAIA) based in 147 indicators has been developed. The study is at farm level in order to be useful to support farmers towards the concept of sustainability.
The indicators has been combined in composite indexes called dimensions (numerical integration), and three diagrams (visual integration):
-Economic dimensions: Profitability, self-sufficient, diversification, costs structure, stability.
-Environmental dimensions: Energy, nutrient Balance, waste Analysis, GHG emissions, biodiversity, land use and management, livestock census and land base.
-Social dimensions: Job characteristics, job creation, quality of life, work quality, animal welfare, landscape and tradition, product quality and nearness to consumer, gender.
The tool is useful for technician, policy makers and individual farmers to guide in taking the proper actions towards more sustainable farms, and improve every year, especially in terms of energy efficiency, individual actions against global warming, and more profitably farms in economic terms.
Valorisation du Changement Climatique observé dans le conseil agricole stratégique
Vincent Cailliez. Chambre d'Agricultre de la Creuse.
Le Changement Climatique est une réalité incontournable et ses conséquences sont enclenchées depuis plusieurs décennies. Les analyses les plus récentes (GIEC-AR5- sept.2013) confirment une rupture de pente et une accélération de ce phénomène à partir de 1980. Du fait de l'inertie de la machine climatique, cette rapide évolution ne pourra être ralentie significativement avant plusieurs décennies. La prolongation de tendance observée est donc une approche réaliste pour les courtes échéances climatiques (0-30ans). Elle permet de dépasser certaines incohérences handicapantes et communes à toutes les simulations physiques du climat comme une saisonnalité thermique décalée par rapport à la réalité et une augmentation de variabilité largement sous-estimée au printemps.
En l'absence de politique nationale structurée, la Chambre d'Agriculture de la Creuse a décidé de s'investir dans une étude de prototypage du conseil stratégique aux exploitations agricoles intégrant la prolongation tendancielle du Changement Climatique observé, via des indicateurs agro-climatiques relatifs à l'herbe et aux grandes cultures.
Le projet initial s'étend de juillet 2012 à juin 2014. Il bénéficie du soutien du Conseil Régional du Limousin et de l'ADEME . Une extension complète au Limousin est en construction. Des contacts avec les Chambres d'Agriculture de 6 autres régions françaises ont été engagés.
LIFE REGEN FARMING (LIFE12 ENV/ES/000232)
Agro-regenerative practices: demonstration of an alternative sustainable management of farm-lands.
Nerea Mandaluniz. NEIKER.
LIFE REGEN FARMING project’s main objective is to demonstrate, under different agroclimatic and livestock systems conditions, the viability of an innovative pasture management system based on the regenerative agriculture principles and its environmental effectiveness, as well as to disseminate and transfer the obtained results. For this purpose, LIFE REGEN FARMING project will focus on:
- Demonstrating the benefits of regenerative practices for soil conservation.
- In-situ Testing of regenerative practices (crops with minimum tillage, organic fertilizers, perennials, rotational grazing) as a sustainable alternative to conventional farming (carbon sequestration, carbon
footprint, greenhouse gas emissions).
- Developing easy-to-use, fast and cheap diagnostic and monitoring methodologies to evaluate soils health, such as Agroecosystems’ Health Cards (TSAs) and chromatograms.
- Raising awareness various stakeholders (farmers, technicians) and production systems (conventional, organic ...) about the environmental benefits of regenerative practices.
- Monitoring the environmental and socioeconomic impact of the regenerative practices in farms.
- Contributing to the LIFE program, the Soil Thematic Strategy (and its
implementation) and to the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy.
Thus, LIFE REGEN FARMING is an innovative project that aims to identify, demonstrate, disseminate and transfer the benefits of regenerative agriculture practices to achieve a more effective and sustainable management of pastoral systems while improving the soil quality and biodiversity.
LIFE SEED CAPITAL (LIFE12 ENV/ES/000590)
Aser García. NEIKER.
Through the seed as a link and integral solution to the problems of pollution and sustainability of agriculture, LIFE-SEEDCAPITAL aims to present and demonstrate ways of saving energy and reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, using 100% of the seed keeping the conflict between biofuel production and human food to a minimum.
Vegetable oil is an interesting candidate among bio-fuels because the production can be done on the farm. Oil can be extracted mechanically, producing as a co-product a solid meal rich in fat.
Therefore, one way to approach the targets proposed by the EU, would be to use rapeseed oil blended with diesel fuel in agricultural machinery, i.e., some studies show with rapeseed oil, which allows for green house gas emissions, savings of 57% compared to diesel fuel, and rapeseed cake obtained during the oil extraction process, in the formulation of concentrates typically used in ruminant feeds, i.e., it is known that for each increase 1% increase in dietary fat in ruminant nutrition, methane production is reduced by 5.6%.
Our objectives will contribute to the EU 20/20/20 targets, in particular the reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases and the most energy efficient and need to cover 10% of transport by biofuels.