Seth: promoting biodiversity and water quality through farmers

Since November 2021, 36 farmers from Bassin-de-Thau have been participating in an environmental experiment.

Sète Agglopôle Méditerranée has been selected for a five-year Payment for Environment (PES) pilot with farmers. On a voluntary basis, 36 farmers were selected due to their geographical location. “We gave priority to the Pallas watershed because it is a stream that is classified as red due to the risk of pollution, in particular in relation to the Etang de Thau, because it is one of the largest streams that feed the basin. this is the Asian water table zone, to protect the water table”explains Michel Garcia, Associate Vice President of Agriculture at SAM. The project, funded by the Rhône Mediterranean Corse Water Agency, aims to provide financial and technical support to farmers to develop practices that conserve water quality and biodiversity.

Impact of biodiversity

If this first year allows for a balance with farms, then the remaining four years will be devoted to assessing the evolution of agricultural practices. “Today, a lot of work is being done regarding the quality of water in the Pallas area and the level of groundwater. Work remains to be done on agroecological infrastructure to try to ensure as much biodiversity as possible in the basin. It could be a heap of stones to favor an ocellated lizard or any other species of reptile, or even an isolated tree or hedge to favor birds.”he explains. Modifications aimed at the development of biodiversity, but also playing the role of phytocleaning of waterways.

Pool resources

In addition to funding over one million euros (see box), the pilot also includes training for farmers to help them transition to other methods.“The goal is to use less phyto-products and create more sustainable agricultural systems. But at the same time maintain the production goal and the agricultural aspect, which is really at the heart of our business. rather use our agricultural space in a way that fits in with a more ecological model. So here, for example, we are going to create a new environment among our vineyards by planting an orchard.”explains Magali Darde from Domaine Les Yeuses in Meuse, who is involved in the project.

Financing over one million euros

The envelope for this experiment is 1,731,200 euros, of which 1,169,500 euros are for the farmers participating in the experiment. The other part is related to piloting, animation and communication around the project. “During the follow-up, we will evaluate best practices and improvements. For example, for the use of glyphosate, if during the 1st year the farmer uses 1.5 liters per hectare per year, and in the next year he uses only one liter of it, he will receive a fee for unused half a liter.Michelle Garcia says

The trainings also encourage farmers to use more local fertilizers to develop a circular economy. “Then we are thinking about creating a cooperative for the use of technology.In particular, Intercepts are expensive cars. They prevent weeding. But, as a rule, farmers use them only 4 days a year. Combining materials, it would be more profitable for them”Michelle Garcia says

Through this experiment, the elected official hopes for a snowball effect among other farmers. “We want to show that these goals, in addition to being ambitious, are achievable in the first place. And perhaps this will help determine the agricultural policy of tomorrow.”he predicts.

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