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Sustainable agriculture: Terres Inovia participates in the work on European agricultural policy recommendations

08 Dec 2022

Terres Inovia is one of the actors who are listened to in the elaboration of the next European agricultural policies. They are driven by a leitmotiv: a more sustainable agriculture.

To work on this, the institute took part in a workshop on November 22 in Brussels of "Plants for the future", a multi-stakeholder platform representing the plant sector, from basic research to crop production and distribution. It brings together stakeholders in the sector to provide strategic direction and recommendations for research and innovation for European policy makers, research funders, practitioners and innovators along the agricultural value chains.
Seed legumes: a lever to introduce more sustainability

Terres Inovia has been invited because the "sustainable agriculture" working group wishes to make recommendations to promote the emergence of seed legumes in European agriculture.

David Gouache, deputy director of the institute, presented the levers to further develop plant proteins in Europe. The issue of sovereignty concerns medium-high protein crops, and therefore oilseeds and legumes.

The presentation aimed to show the contrast between the success of oilseeds and the failure of legumes in European agriculture: this comparison highlights the key points to successfully integrate legumes at the necessary level.

Indeed, "the cultivation of pulses in the European Union must be multiplied by 6 to 8 to achieve a good agronomic balance. In France, it would be just a matter of converting 5% of cereals and corn into pulses: this is not a revolution, just an evolution. This is not a revolution, just an evolution. 20 to 25% of the stagnation in cereal yields can be explained, and therefore corrected, in part, by the return of legumes in previous crops," emphasizes David Gouache.

Moreover, in terms of sustainable agriculture, pulses are a formidable lever: "they are the key to mitigating climate change by limiting N2O emissions from synthetic nitrogen fertilizers," adds the Institute's deputy director.
Price, industrial investment and innovation

The successful development of oilseeds in France, and by contrast the difficulties of legumes, illustrates the conditions that must be met. Oilseeds have emerged thanks to significant industrial investment and a willingness to share risks, which has resulted - and still results - in favorable prices for French seeds.

Although industrial investment in pulses is beginning to take off, the price issue remains a blocking factor, as emphasized by the Copa representative in the working group. Varietal innovation, with the advent of hybrid rapeseed, is also one of the factors that has contributed to the definitive establishment of rapeseed in the European landscape.

However, investment in innovation in legumes is limited due to the small size of these markets. Although there are an increasing number of funding programs, it was also pointed out that the regulatory provisions, in particular on plant protection products, regularly call into question all the work done on these species: "we must break the current vicious circle and adopt, in the regulatory policy, a systemic vision in terms of risk assessment linked to plant protection products, by taking better account of the benefits associated with maintaining diversification species, in particular legumes, in the crop rotation. Innovation in legumes must be protected and stimulated, not thwarted by regulations," concluded David Gouache.

In addition to this intervention for Plants for the Future, Terres Inovia was also present, thanks to Etienne Pilorgé, in charge of institutional and international partnerships, at another workshop organized by SusCrop, a European network of research teams committed to sustainable agriculture. This network, which brings together actors from national and regional R&D&I (research, development and investment) programs in the European Union member states, works to strengthen the coordination of research programs in the field of sustainable crop production. Its next working conference will be held on 7 and 8 February 2023, in Belgium.​​​​​​​



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