Arvalis – Institut du Végétal is the French partner in the 4CE-MED project, which aims to develop new Mediterranean farming systems that are innovative, diversified and resilient. These systems will be based on conservation agriculture practices and will include camelina, a heat- and drought-tolerant oil and protein crop with very promising agronomic and economic potential, particularly in Mediterranean regions.
Several actors from upstream to downstream of the sector were called upon to share the challenges, barriers and key points for the development of this crop: research institutes, producers, advisors, economic organisations, downstream operators and the Ministry of Agriculture. Thanks to this approach, the perspectives of the entire chain are taken into account (Figure 1).
There is a consensus among stakeholders on the potential for non-food uses of camelina, particularly for biofuels. They also share the interest of introducing camelina into rotations from an agronomic point of view, in a “systems approach” (weed control, inputs management, diversification, etc.). However, it is important to find the most suitable systems and technical itineraries. They must be optimised to :
– obtain good yields without negatively impacting the other crops in the rotation,
– be as efficient as possible in technical, economic and environmental terms,
– best meet the expectations of downstream operators in the sector,
– comply with the regulations in force (in relation with double cropping notably).
For the implementation of the trials within the framework of 4CE-MED, Arvalis was able to rely on the collection of expectations and feedbacks from the various stakeholders. The systems studied around camelina will be:
- Main crop (substitution or insertion of as starter crop of the rotation).
- Main winter crop in a double cropping system (followed by a summer catch crop).
- Catch crop: sowing after a pea or a winter barley.
- Spring sowing after an immature winter crop, during May after an energy catch crop or mowing of a forage crop.
Several farmers in the Syppre network have already set up trials of camelina as a catch crop in the past, particularly in the Lauragais region. This system is particularly encouraged by oilseed processors.
The first results are encouraging the potential is very interesting as long as we manage to ensure a satisfactory emergence. This requires optimising sowing (tillage, date & depth), controlling pests, adapting the previous crop, the harvest date and the varieties.
During the 4CE-MED project, Arvalis will also rely on the Syppre farmers’ network to organise demonstration activities to transfer the results of the trials, so that those interested in camelina can learn about, observe and analyse the characteristics of this crop in situ.
Figure1: Camelina’s priority axes of work