Benoit Lavier, Etormay, France – 7th of November 2015

My next visit was to see Benoit Lavier


Benoit is an arable farmer about an hour from Alexandra and Yann. He is also the President of APAD ( Association for the Promotion of Conservation Agriculture) .APAD has about 350 members. It is similar to BASE but has slightly different aims. It is more strict on the fact they are promoting No till not min till. Also they are looking at more of a lobbying role influencing the French government. For example they will have at a stand at the COP meeting in Paris next year.

After lunch we had a look around his machinery and farm.


I think he is the first farmer this week with something different to a JD 750a. He has a Semeato. The reason for this is when they first started to look into no-till the guy advising them was Alfred Gassler and he knew about Semeato. Bernard seems very happy with it.


Recently they have added a row cleaner and they use this when planting cover crops and OSR. They have found it improves germination.

We then went to the fields. The first field was of wheat


Bernard has had the same problem as Yann with mice. So as well he has had to cultivate some fields. This field was cultivated this year but it was interesting to see that the structure was still very good and their was lots of worms. Benoit was worried that cultivating would upset all the hard work done under no-till. He possibly had the longest worms I have seen


We then looked at a field of OSR after wheat. He reckons he lost 1.5t/ha of wheat due to mice last year, so it was cultivated. Part of the field was in a companion crop of beans, was, vetch and lentil.


This field in the past has had compaction problems but now under no till was looking good. In this area he had germanium problems so this is why he had this mix. The other part of the field was a mix of OSR plus Lucerne



This is the first time he has tried this. He hopes to leave the Lucerne as a permanent mulch like Hubert Charpentier.

After looking around various other fields we went and chatting for a long time in his office about all things agriculture.


Benoit is a very intelligent guy and also very generous with his time. In the evening we had dinner with his family ( 5 children) At lunch I noticed that his eldest son Pierre had a T shirt about Scotland on. I asked whether this was for my benefit. Then in the evening his 10 yr old daughter came down with a T shirt with “I love London” on the front. I thought this was very sweet. His children also had an English lesson over dinner and I a French one! Benoit has a wonderful farm and a wonderful family. Thanks Benoit for your time.


2 thoughts on “Benoit Lavier, Etormay, France – 7th of November 2015

  1. Graham A.B.Edwards December 16, 2015 / 6:18 pm

    Andy If we are to reduce fuel consumption & soil-compaction there is a way to do things that fit well with the world`s farmers.
    It is not the Spreading with a trailed spreader or a trailed Sprayer that is central to the CA-thinking but also it is the trailers that service the combine that ,along with the DIRECT SEEDER that must ALL be thought of in a “TOGETHER FASHION”
    ONLY the Direct seeder enters the soil and it enters it …….in no-till ………..not that silliness called min-till…………………………and so the task is to make all six ag-implements + the rubber-tracked combine………………………..LIGHT and as fast as possible.

    Benoit has to be efficient with his labour & machinery but he also has to be light in weight so as to keep his fuel-costs down & ,if the equipment is light ,he does not need to spend a fortune on the LGP tyres & their fitment.

    What this means is that the equipment needed for ploughing is probably as opposite as could be possible for CA-use………………………forgetting all that stupidity of min-till.

    CONVENTIONAL Tractors are heavy & slow…………….
    CA-farm vehicles NEED to be fast and light.

    I went to Cop21 to meet Benoit.He was too busy with his budgets for APAD to discuss what it is I am writing to you about and which i think the new NUFFIELD scholar [RUSSELL Mackenzie] has some kind of feel for………………………..what kind of DIRECT SEEDER needs to be designed FOR the CA culture.
    Tony Reynolds has made some efforts in this direction because he has recognised that,as have the Danes,that much lower HP tractors are needed when CA is utilised.

    The tractor & direct seeder combination is very important to CA.
    When the logic ,for ALL equipment used in CA,is light & fast EACH farmer has to realise that his farm tractor has NOT been designed for CA & is NOT fit for purpose……..the engine is wrong,the transmission is foolishly designed for ploughing efficiency…..there is no need for Draught control etc etc.

    Fast and light……is where the BRITISH contribution comes from……light & fast……but with sufficient drawbar pull to handle a Direct Seeder that needs to be designed differently so that LESS draught /DRAWBAR-Pull is needed ……..the ploughing tractor is not a tractor designed for CA……………………………..but much worse the plougher is ridiculous when pulling a trailer…..too heavy too slow…….the sprayers have to be trailed to spread the weight,same for the fertiliser spreader………
    Revolutions come and go and because the tractor is a plougher it can pull that DIRECT seeder that is far too heavy………………………when labour costs & Fuel costs & labour & machinery prices are exhorbhitant…………………………………Perhaps you might send this on to the APAD President….as it was a long way to go to discuss his SEEDER …..but I did have to view it on the stand…………………….there is lots more to do to get the Ag-machinery industry to understand what Automotive & aerospace have been working on since I was a young Apprentice in the Aerospace sector.
    Over to you Best regards,GRAHAM


    • Andy Howard December 16, 2015 / 7:32 pm

      There were guys in Switzerland who had the drill and tractor in one machine.


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