Farming for Change!

Spreading the word of farmers across Europe who have championed sustainable practices by reducing pesticides on their fields

The conservative Europeans Peoples Party (EPP) used farmers voices to reject the European Green Deal proposal to half the use of pesticides by 2023. Unsurprisingly, they don’t paint the whole picture and leave out the voices of Europe’s progressive farming communities. The truth is: A growing number of farmers recognize the negative impact of the agrochemical industry and pesticides on their health and long-term success.

Many conventional farmers have already voluntarily reduced pesticide use, despite the limited support from public authorities. By learning about their experience, more farmers across Europe can be empowered to adopt sustainable, agro-ecological farming practices. The Green Deal’s binding pesticide reduction targets and structure for public support can also liberate farmers trapped in an industrial system. 

Listen to the voices of our small scale farmers. They are fed up with pesticides and this is the support they call for in order to reduce spraying:

🌱 Independent advisory services for informed decisions
💰 Financial support for the transition
🌾 Peer-to-peer exchanges in groups
🏆 Recognition of integrated pest management (IPM)
🌿 Access to diverse agronomic alternatives

European Commission, listen to farmers!

Spreading the word of farmers across Europe who have benefited from sustainable practices and reduced pesticides on their fields

  • “My name is Sébastien Galland, I am a farmer since 2016 on 120 hectares and I have been a member of the DEPHY group since 2017. The reduction of pesticides and inputs is possible!

    To do this, you need to think and want it, and work with nature and not against nature. Our ancestors had already thought about producing without pesticides or inputs, we must update our practices with current knowledge and technologies to create more virtuous systems.

    The cropping system is at the heart of my farm (rotation, sowing date, fertilization management, soil temperature, etc.). You have to think about the resilience of the farm, both economically and ecologically. System thinking and testing is imperative because every structure and individual is different. On my farm I managed in 2 years to reduce my IFT (indicator used to measure the use of pesticides) by more than 50% and since then I have been between -60 and -70% reduction compared to regional and local references. It’s a daily battle between observation, reflection, anticipation and implementation.

    After 7 years of work on the farm, it seemed crucial for me to work both on the reduction of inputs, including nitrogen fertilization, and on that of plant protection products because the two are interlinked. All of this is only possible by freeing oneself from the “advice” given by “vendors of phytopharmaceuticals”, and fellow farmers using systems based on the fear of losing even the smallest yield. In order to encourage this transition, only a more proactive support from public authorities would allow major progress on these issues.

  • “Why  do I practice “Integrated Pest Management*” on my farm? An approach linked to the “weeding” problem, at the beginning. First for a question of decreasing effectiveness of phytosanitary products (pesticides), then by a progressive awareness of the harmful consequences of their use (environmental, health, social, sometimes economic…)

    I do it through a profound overhaul of the cropping system. Implemented gradually, of course. First with the cultivation of wheat, then with the others, each with their specificity. Then to manage weeds with the use of all agronomic levers in combination, to the extent possible. As well as: Lengthening/modification of rotation, new crops, mechanical weeding, etc.

    A fundamental point in my eyes: A group approach! Less stressful and comforting. Long live the group “Integrated Agriculture 27″!

    I notice the time freed up by a decrease in the number of spraying passes, and more serenity in my practices. Convinced of the approach, I integrate new issues over time (reduction of resources, climate change, etc.,)

    I am struck by the gap that has widened between my practices and those of my “conventional” neighbors (which I was able to measure again recently during my Strategic Phytosanitary Contract mandatory in France).

    The downside: I am disappointed not to be able to value my production compared to my so-called neighbors (no “IPM” sectors as there can be in Switzerland, for example). Nevertheless, I will not go back.”

  • “Yes, it is possible to cultivate with much less pesticides: I can say it today, after years of experience, if one adapts his ways of doing things, his cultivation system, so that its agronomic robustness allows it.

    This interests me in more than one way:
    Initially, it started from an interrogation regarding the importance of inputs in crop management practices and itineraries. This took more space in the “agricultural technique” than the understanding of biological processes. Even though I was very interested in this understanding.

    Then the discovery and responsibility regarding the impacts of pesticides reinforced my orientation: my own exposure to pesticides with regards to health, in particular with insecticides and neurotoxics.

    This was followed by the impacts on the environment, including water quality. I am a farmer in a “priority” water catchment area for the two water quality issues of nitrates and pesticides.  The question of work is also important for me: less pesticides means less passages in the fields, and less overall activity around plant protection products.

    Today: I have found a balance between the robustness of my cultivation and the greatly reduced use of pesticides. I am satisfied to be able to produce in this way, despite of a certain professional and social marginalization that I assume more easily today.”

  • ” My name is Jean Bernard Lozier. I am a farmer since 1990 in France in the region of Normandy, 100 km west of Paris. My farm, with a surface of 90 ha, is located on a plateau of large cereal crops with a good yield potential (about 85 Qx/ha in wheat for the specialists).

    I have been working with a group of farmers for twenty years now to reduce the use of synthetic pesticides. All the farmers in this group have been able to reduce their use of synthetic pesticides by 50% in two years. Reducing pesticides further is more complicated, but I have myself managed to reduce my use of synthetic pesticides by 80% for three years now. This reduction has been accompanied by a decrease in yields of about 10%, without affecting economic profitability.

    On the ground, this has resulted in a change in the landscape and the territory (diversification of crops, planting of hedges, improvement of biodiversity thanks to strips of melliferous fallow land) and, for me, an improvement in the quality of life.

    In my opinion, the most important points for successfully reducing the use of pesticides are the following:

    • Working in a group of farmers in order to exchange, share and reassure each other
    • To be well supported by engineers, facilitators and agricultural advisors
    • And above all, to understand why we want to change

    And for me the agroecological transition involves the concept of social sustainability: at the society level (what image do I want to project to society and what does society expect of me today), environmental (what role I want to play and what role I can play to have a positive impact regarding environmental and climate problems) and of course economic.

  • “I am a farmer in the Vexin Normand since 1992. I grow cereals, rapeseed, beets, alfalfa and flax on 154 hectares. On land with good potential, I first practiced intensive agriculture.

    Originally a tool for reducing costs, I now consider that the path of “Integrated Agriculture” (IPM) is essential to preserve the environment and human health.

    I love the territory that watch me grow up. My farm is located in a particularly sensitive area since a river has its source there. Despite a slight slope, the land is subject to erosion and runoff.

    Knowing my practices, the leader of the “Integrated Agriculture 27” group invited me to meetings in 2019. I then logically joined the DEPHY group in 2022. Logically, because the reduction in the use of phytosanitary products requires reflection upstream, at the level of the operating system. These groups allow me to motivate myself and progress.

    For my part, this involves: choosing varieties that are tolerant to diseases and shifting the sowing dates of winter cereals. Plowing has become more frequent again to gain flexibility with respect to sowing conditions, but also as a “tool” for weeding. I reintroduced hoeing on beets and corn. I spend more time on agronomy and observation, and less on spraying.

    In 3 years my global IFT (indicator used to measure the use of pesticides) already achieves almost a 50% reduction compared to the regional benchmark, and with rising margins. Ecology and Economy are compatible, that’s reassuring!

Spread the word!

The farmers´ testimonials above are available in many different languages! Click on the button to download the files and share them on your social media account to spread the word: Many farmers are already sucessfully reducing pesticides! We need the EU uphold their Green Deal, the Farm to Fork strategy and support farmers to work with nature!