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Diversifier les assolements pour sécuriser les récoltes à venir

06 Jul 2022

Paris, July 6, 2022 - In a context of climate change and increased tensions on food markets, Terres Univia, the vegetable oil and protein interprofession, Terres Inovia, the technical institute for professionals in the vegetable oil and protein and hemp sectors, and the FOP, the Federation of Oilseed and Protein Producers, remind us of the importance of diversifying crop rotations in the long term, but also in a more cyclical manner. Thinking about varied crop rotation and balancing rotations with legumes and sunflowers are effective solutions for introducing robustness into farms and better coping with difficulties in the event of bad weather or tensions on raw materials. This strategy relies in particular on the agronomic advantages of oilseeds to spread risks and workloads in order to achieve the competitiveness objectives of farms while ensuring the production necessary for food sovereignty.

In the current context, it is particularly important to think in terms of controlling costs and margins in rotation, but also to choose crop rotation in the light of constraints, for example, the quantity of fertiliser available on the farm or known climate risks. With purchase and sale prices expected to be high for the 2022-2023 season, the economic interest of oilseed crops is reinforced, despite the increase in production costs (price of fertiliser, gas, etc.).

Rapeseed and sunflower are excellent rotation heads contributing to the fertility and improvement of soil structure. Oilseed producers can also balance their rotation with crops that are low in nitrogen inputs, such as sunflower, or that fix nitrogen gas in the soil, such as legumes. The 30 to 40 kg of nitrogen per hectare thus fixed in the soil will be available for the next crop. Oilseed rape can take up available nitrogen in the plots in the autumn. Sowing oilseeds reduces the overall nitrogen dependency of the farm and optimises its use in the rotation.

Oilseed crops have other agronomic advantages that make farms more robust from both a technical and economic point of view. The reduction in phytosanitary costs (herbicides), induced by a good long-term balance between winter and spring crops, and the beneficial "precedent" effects of rapeseed, pea or sunflower on the following wheat now result in a positive economic impact reinforced at the rotation level. Diversifying crops means multiplying the benefits and reducing the risks on the farm.

An improved balance between spring and winter crops can thus increase the profitability of arable farms over the long term. In an example of a crop rotation corresponding to a medium depth clay-limestone soil in an 'intermediate zone', Terres Inovia studied the choice of more diversified and better balanced rotations between these crops in 2022 [1].  Such a diversification strategy makes it possible to

  • ​​​​​​​Increase the average annual margin by at least 50 €/ha/year. In the very frequent case where the performance of the rapeseed/wheat/wheat/winter barley rotation is degraded (lack of weed management, higher herbicide costs), the medium-term margin gain can be well over €100/ha/year.
  • Reduce operating costs by 120 €/ha/year according to the assumptions made [2].
  • Reduce the average annual mineral nitrogen input by 25 to 40 units (i.e. -15 to -25%), with the resulting benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).

"The repercussions of the war in Ukraine and the already visible effects of climate change on crops require more and more robustness and adaptability from farmers. Thinking in terms of diversified crop rotation, using sunflower and legumes on a rotational scale but also in a more cyclical way, allows to improve the resilience but also the competitiveness of farms", says Antoine Henrion, President of Terres Univia.

« Terres Inovia est investi au quotidien pour valoriser les atouts des oléoprotéagineux et conseiller au plus proche du terrain les producteurs dans leurs assolements. Diversifier les assolements avec des légumineuses et du tournesol permet à une exploitation d’être plus flexible, plus réactive face aux aléas et de rester compétitive, comme en témoigne l’étude réalisée par l’Institut technique présentée aujourd’hui », précise Gilles Robillard, Président de Terres Inovia.

"Terres Inovia is involved on a daily basis in promoting the advantages of oilseeds and advising producers as closely as possible in their crop rotation. Diversifying crop rotation with legumes and sunflower allows a farm to be more flexible, more reactive to hazards and to remain competitive, as shown by the study carried out by the Technical Institute presented today," says Gilles Robillard, President of Terres Inovia.

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