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) www.apad.asso.fr .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.