On 2 March, as part of the 4CE-MED project, a workshop was held for members of the Alcamancha cooperative. The event was organised by Agri-food Cooperatives of Spain (Spanish Co-ops) in close collaboration with Camelina Company España, the Spanish Association of Conservation Agriculture and Living Soils (AEAC.SV) and Agri-food Cooperatives of Castilla La Mancha.
The aim was to provide them with information on the convenience of incorporating conservation agriculture on their farms and diversify with new crops such as camelina, to benefit from a wider range of aid within the new CAP 2023, while increasing the sustainability and health of their soils. Camelina is a crop in which this cooperative has previous experience, and which was replanted by some of its members last November.
First, Pablo Fernández, a technician from Spanish Co-ops, explained the objective of the 4CE-MED project to the 40 members in attendance (including young people and women interested in diversifying their crops and improving the sustainability of their farms). This project aims to identify the obstacles and opportunities for conservation agriculture in the Mediterranean basin. In this sense, he commented that in Spain the aim is to introduce conservation agriculture through the cultivation of camelina in direct sowing in the rotations of low productive areas, especially arid and semi-arid drylands (below 3,000 kg/ha), such as those existing in the regions of Alcarria and Mancha Alta (Cuenca, Spain), while providing alternatives, reducing soil erosion, increasing the availability of organic matter and water, and guaranteeing a short-term economic benefit.
Next, Fernando Gil, a technician from Camelina Company España, reported on the trials they are carrying out in Spain within the framework of the 4CE-MED project, providing detailed information on the agronomic management of camelina cultivation, prices, market, final products, necessary adjustments to conventional machinery for direct sowing, etc., as well as the state of the plots sown on the cooperative’s own farms. Once the time comes to harvest these plots, a field visit will be organised so that Alcamancha‘s members can see the characteristics of this crop in situ and receive answers to the many questions that arose during the day.
Francisco Sánchez, a technician from AEAC.SV, focused on the advantages of implementing conservation agriculture, presenting proven data on the environmental benefits (biodiversity, fertility, soil conservation, sequestration and prevention of CO2 emissions, humidity, etc.) and economic benefits (time, fuel, and other costs) derived from its application, as well as on the guidelines to follow in the implementation of crops. Following the monitoring of the results of the cooperative’s plots and the trials carried out by Camelina Company España, a report will be drawn up on the introduction of camelina in arid soils under conservation agriculture.
The day ended with the intervention of Nuria Villanueva, from the Gabinete de Dirección de Cooperativas Agro-alimentarias de Castilla-La Mancha, who presented the details of the changes introduced for the new CAP 2023 and, specifically, the economic impact for Alcamancha’s farmers through an analysis of the cooperative’s productions and areas of work. His presentation highlighted the need to diversify with crops such as camelina and use more sustainable practices, such as the application of the principles of conservation agriculture, to maintain the income, they have been receiving until now, under the new CAP 2023.