Let's create a shock wave to deploy innovation

Dominique Chargé, Chairman of La Coopération Agricole, crop protection is linked intrinsically to the issues of food sovereignty and agroecology: 400,000 combining methods have yet to be invented! I.e. as many as the number of farmers belonging to agricultural cooperatives A wave of innovations has to pour into French agriculture in the next ten years to adjust to each growing scheme faced with the climatic and agronomic constraints of the land, technical dead-ends and environmental requirements of specifications. Digital technology, bioprotection and biotechnologies are opening up major prospects in addition to agrochemicals.

Public authorities and consumers have become aware of the red line no longer to be crossed to preserve our agriculture. Essential to the regional economy and intended for local markets or for export, it is first and foremost, for the French, the guarantee of safe, high-quality food.

The Ecophyto 2030 plan announced this summer will be an opportunity to bring all stakeholders together to create this shock wave. A regulatory framework facilitating joint projects between players with complementary scientific and technological bent must form the cornerstone.

Emmanuelle Pabolleta

General manager of Phyteis


Solutions Contract: influencing minds in a different way to prevent agrochemical risks

Escape game, quiz, sketches, etc. Innovation is gaining learning methods to raise farmer awareness to chemical risks. Follow the group of Solutions Contract preventionists on a training day organised by one of the association's members: Axe Environnement.

Preventing agrochemical risks, games, workshops and technological inventions

Players in preventing agrochemical risks, representatives of the MSA (Mutualité sociale agricole), crop protection companies, A.D.I. Valor (agri-supply waste collection eco-body) and the Agricultural Trade Federation met on 19-20 March at Axe Environnement at Romilly-sur-Seine in the Aube. These Solutions Contract partners took part in an innovative training session designed by the equipment manufacturer, another member of this national association.

The goal of the members of the group “All together to prevent agrochemical risks” is to produce even more creativity in their communication campaign. Their recipe: games, interaction and an up-beat tone! Games are thus the main thread of the Axe Environment training course. Fabien Vermot-Desroches, the company’s Development Director, admits: “It is the best way of recommending an item of equipment or to talk about environmental protection”.

The group of preventatists has also identified recent technological inventions to increase operator safety when handling plant protection products.


Apple scab, a complex disease to deal with

Apple scab emerges as soon as the buds break out with the rise in temperatures and humidity. A primary contamination phase takes place until the fruit forms. The goal of plant protection is to avoid "spiking", i.e. secondary contamination, which could "explode" on fruit during the summer due to rainfall. The other challenge is to deal with the resistance of Venturia inaequalis strains to single-site fungicides and to reduce the treatment frequency index as much as possible through digital technology and biocontrol.


In 2023: fewer fungicide treatments thanks to digital technology

Assessing the scab risk using decision-making tools optimises the positioning of both organic and conventional preventive fungicides. According to experiments by the National Apple and Pear Association (ANPP), in a year with little disease pressure like 2015, four fewer treatments were needed thanks to the RIMPro decision-making tool.
The other effective levers in dealing with the disease are agrochemicals, quality spraying, biocontrol and prophylaxis with leaves destroyed in Autumn. The planting of tolerant apple varieties is accelerating, even though there have been cases of scab strains circumventing them.

Protecting apple orchards against scab in 2023


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Agrochemicals to be secured

The loss of essential substances to protect the apple trees from scab would lead the sector into technical stalemate“, warns Marie-Noelle Tanné, Syngenta Agri-ecology Solutions Engineer. For growers, the scabbed fruit means a loss of earnings as converting them into juice is clearly of less value that marketing them as fresh produce.”
Apart from copper, a candidate for substitution, there are only two other multi-site fungicides left to handle the resistance of scab strains to single-site systemic fungicides. Alternating modes of action also remains essential in preventing the risk of resistance. Paths have been identified for biocontrol solutions, but tree growers still have to experiment in order to introduce them into the schemes. “With energy prices soaring, this issue will be less of a priority in 2023“, she shares. Her company is working on a product based on extracts of crustacean shells and fruit pectins.

The main groups of chemical families available in 2023 to protect apple trees from scab

Products with a "multisite" contact mode of action Products with a "single site" mode of action Biocontrol and/or organic use made up of minerals, plant extracts, etc. Basic substances
They contain so-called "essential" substances, the basis for the protection strategy Often used in combination with a contact product Biocontrol and/or organic use made up of minerals, plant extracts, etc. Basic substances
Phtalimids: captan (preventive) Succinate Dehydrogenase Inhibitors (SDHI): fluopyram, fluxapyroxad, penthiopyrad Sulphur, potassium bicarbonate, lime-sulphur slurry, etc. Talc, willow, horsetail and nettle concoctions, sodium bicarbonate
Quinones: dithianon (preventive and knock-down effect) Anilinopyrimidines (ANP) : cyprodinil, pyriméthanil Natural defence simulators: algae (laminarin), potassium phosphonate
Copper (may be used in organic farming) Strobilurines ou Qols : krésoxim-méthyl, trifloxystrobine
Triazoles (Group I of sterol biosynthesis inhibitors): difenoconazole, mefentrifluconazole
Guanidins: dodine

In 2030

  • Apple varieties with several resistance genes
  • Reinforced prophylaxis to avoid scab propagation with fast leaf degradation solutions.
  • Sterile crossing of scab strains under the Inrae project “Enfin!” with two patented inventions. This crossing would be revolutionary should it reach the manufacturing stage as it would prevent fungicide applications in Spring drastically. Its principle: during the reproduction process in Autumn, the apple scab strain crosses with strains from pyracantha, an ornamental plant, produces a non-pathogenic generation for the apple tree.
  • Biocontrol solutions from animal or plant extracts.
  • Digital pressure monitoring (dPCR) with increasingly precise decision-making tools.


Xavier Le Clanche, Technical Manager, National Apple and Pear Association (ANPP)

"Avoiding resistance is the sinews of war when faced with a fungus that changes and adapts easily"


As Venturia Ineaqualis strains can circumvent “single-site” fungicide activity, these fungicides have to be combined with “multi-site” contact fungicides. However, the category of these fungicides deemed to be “essential” is considerably reduced with few or no sustainable alternatives.

Protecting apple trees from scab using fungicides is always a question of timing which has to be maintained until harvest to avoid primary fungus contaminations on leaves and fruit. A key parameter enters the lists: the plasticity of Venturia Ineaqualis strains. “Single-site penetrating fungicides belonging to the triazole, strobilurin, QoI and ANF families have been circumvented”, shares Xavier Le Clanche, Technical Manager for the National Apple and Pear Association (ANPP). The effectiveness of those in the SDHI (translaminar) family must also be maintained. Less sensitive to leaching, these penetrating fungicides protect forming organs during rain and are more persistent. Their special feature? They only target a single biological function of the fungus. All of them therefore have to be combined within a scheme that includes a “shield” contact fungicide as this is “multi-site*” to continue to be effective. Alternating modes of action, that should always be done, is not enough to curb the risk of resistance“, warns the expert. Multi-site fungicides alone impede the appearance of resistance; they are therefore the foundation of apple treatment schemes during this key primary contamination period.

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While the number of authorised combinations for systemic fungicides appears high, they can only be used with multi-site contact substances to avoid resistance of scab strains.

Xavier Le Clanche, technical Manager, National Apple and Pear Association (ANPP)

Drop in the number of possible combinations between contact and penetrating fungicides

Nevertheless, since the withdrawal of mancozeb from the agrochemical pharmacopoeia in 2021, tree-growers now only have two multi-site substances available, dithianon and captan, as a basis for dealing with the risk of resistance. The fact that each one can only be applied six times during one season reduces the possibilities of combining them with penetrating products, whereas twenty treatments on average can be necessary to harvest unblemished and smooth fruit. The lime-sulphur slurry which is not very sensitive to leaching and has the “knock-down” effect is an effective alternative. However, Xavier Le Clanche believes that its use remains fragile, including in organic farming, because it depends on the 120-day exemption system for obtaining authorisation, which is reviewed every year. Copper, an alternative at the start of the cycle, is also a candidate for substitution.

The Reflection and Research Network on Pesticide Resistance (R4P) has developed the list of cases of resistance to plant protection products detected in France.

Use of captan under review

Dithianon and captan are still being renewed. The captan renewal process is more advanced, but the European Commission is proposing a use restriction that would eliminate the orchard molecule“The suggestion by the Commission that captan can only be used for crops under glass is very worrying for the sector“, shares Xavier Le Clanche. Growers and experts in the sector have already warned the authority. Adama is one of the companies supporting the file. Adjustments to fungicide use are proposed. A drop in quantities per hectare and/or a longer spry interval along with risk management measures optimising the application methods would enable captan to be maintained to manage the risk of resistance at the start of the cycle. Thus, it would not lose too much effectiveness.

In addition, by reducing the number of agrochemical solutions, the tree growers are forced to increase the pressure of use on the remaining ones. “This type of strategy is not sustainable“, warns Xavier Le Clanche.

* Multi-site means that the active substance targets several biochemical processes in the fungus, which mobilise enzymes (respiratory chain, cellular membrane, cell division, etc.).

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Varietal tolerance, a lever being deployed

70% of areas growing apples in France belong to members of the ANPP and carry the Ecoresponsible Orchard label. “When renewing orchards, the last five years have seen an acceleration in planting so-called scab-tolerant varieties such as Juliet, Regal You, Story Innored, Dalinette, Opal and Swing, shares Xavier Le Clanche from ANPP.They thus account for 40% of new plantings and over 15% of the Ecoresponsible Orchard areas in 2023. Twenty years ago, we only really had Ariane apples“.

Nevertheless, the varietal lever has shown its limitations with the appearance of situations where it is almost universally circumvented in France, according to Inrae. For Xavier Le Clanche, “it is not the intention to increase the tolerant ranges, as the number of references has to remain reasonable to figure in the major retail shelves, but to work on several genes to strengthen the tolerance“.

Anne Duval-Chaboussou, Research Engineer at CTIFL La Morinière

"If positioned correctly, bioprotection solutions reveal that they are very effective against scab".


At CTIFL La Morinière, in Indre-et-Loire, biocontrol solutions and natural substances are used to combat peaks in apple tree contamination byVenturia inaequalis, the fungus responsible for scab. A decision-making tool, impeccable spraying quality and combinations with sulphur and a lime-sulphur slurry form the basis for the rationale in organic orchards.

Anne Duval-Chaboussou, a research engineer at the Fruit and Vegetable Professional Association Technical Centre (CTIFL) La Morinière (37) is to assess in both organic orchards and integrated fruit production (PFI) the effectiveness and optimum use conditions of alternative solutions to conventional fungicides, especially for candidate for substitution products at European level. The rationale remains the same, regardless of the solution. Protection against scab must be effective from bud breaking to flowering, otherwise it will be difficult to control the disease up to harvesting, she suggests. In this context, only the level of risk, assessed with the RimPro or Fruitweb decision-making tool and based on weather data from the local station on the CTIFL La Morinière site, guides the positioning of alternative solutions.

Lime-sulphur slurry, sulphur and potassium bicarbonate

The lime-sulphur slurry, which is nevertheless subject to the 120-day exemption system, is proving to be extremely effective in blocking the primary sporulations. It can even replace fungicides that may encounter resistance as a curative solution“. Another option identified for preventive use, mainly at flowering: sulphur, solo or combined with potassium bicarbonate. “This combination is featuring increasingly in integrated fruit protection strategies,” explains Anne Duval-Chaboussou. It is even possible to modulate the dose rates depending on the risk of disease as this solution is deemed effective. It can be applied during average peaks, even average contamination. Then, for safety reasons, or where there is significant leaching, it is recommended to apply a lime-sulphur slurry“.

No really effective alternatives to copper

Entered on the list of molecules to be substituted, copper, which can be used in organic farming, has its place at the start and end of primary contamination cycles. In conventional farming, it can lower the TFI to 0.3 by reducing the dose rate according to the level of disease pressure. Alternatives to this mineral substance are being explored, including base substances made up of horsetail decoction and willow infusions. “We are working on better compound extraction to increase effectiveness“, adds Anne Duval-Chaboussou. “But we are hampered by the cost“. Among the other avenues: oregano and clove oils. They could be agronomically interesting but not economically, according to the engineer.

champigny verger Bio

Where there is a major leaching risk of sulphur products or major contamination appears after these applications, curative treatment with lime-sulphur slurry ensures the protection of organic apples.


Science – Plants for milking: innovation right down to the rootlets!

Normally roots hide what they are doing well underground, but at Plant Advanced Technologies they take centre stage! Depending on the species, these roots manufacture natural substances capable of controlling pests. Researchers are studying this part of the plant carefully to detect molecules with herbicide, fungicide or insecticide properties within it. And the company uses metabolite engineering in-house to move from the laboratory to large-scale production. Here the enzymes take up the baton.

Encounter with Frédéric Bourgaud, Director of this innovative biotechnology company in Nancy and inventor of the “Plants to be milked” process, Sissi Miguel, Scientific Director of Cellengo, a PAT subsidiary, and Thomas Regnault, R&D engineer. They explain all the stages in the research process and development of these promising bioprotection and biostimulation solutions for agriculture as well as the challenges to be taken up.

Practices – Pherodrone, a technological revolution to implement biocontrol

Thanks to drone releases of mating disruption devices on the tops of large trees, more than 800 ha of walnut, apple and chestnut orchards will be protected from codling moth by 2023. Fiddly installation of diffusers using long sticks is therefore consigned to the past. This commercial and technological alliance between the start-up Agri.builders and the crop protection company Sumi-Agro is accelerating the adoption of this biocontrol solution. Farmers will simply not have to apply insecticide anymore in the majority of cases.

Encounter with Estelle Achard, nut producer, Antoine Boudon and Alexis Trubert, joint founders of agri-builders and with Pauline Creton from Sumi-Agro on 26 April at Montagne in the Drome, the day the pheromone nets are installed. The operation has been supported by the nut producers Sica and the Valsoleil cooperative. The patented Pherodrone technology is a world exclusive and a source of pride. New objective? Aim higher and in other countries!

Practices – Déserb’Avenir faster and closer to beet!

In the weedkiller fair organised by the Technical Beet Institute (ITB) on 16-17 May at Santeau in the Loiret, the machinery worked flush with the beet and with greater accuracy. The work is done faster and improving in performance using the RTK and camera guidance systems as well as artificial intelligence.

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Increasingly sophisticated machinery to reduce the herbicide treatment frequency indicator (TFI): this is the trend of the 8th Désherb’Avenir, the bi-annual exhibition of mechanical weeding. The TFI is now down by 30% to 70%. Harrows, flex-tine harrows, mixed weed control solutions, robots and spot application sprayers are testifying first and foremost to how solutions can complement each other to achieve effective weed control.

Spot spraying is possible with wide booms

In spraying, the trend is for herbicides to be positioned more precisely and on a larger scale: “Today, we know how to spot spray the herbicide with 36 metre-wide sprayers which move forward very quickly at nearly 10 km/h compared with 18 metres previously at a speed of 5 to 6 km/h”, confirms Ghislain Malatesta, Director of the Regional Experimentation and Expertise Department at ITB.

Ultra-spot applications continue to be designed for large weeds like thistles which can easily be identified using artificial intelligence. In beet spraying, treatments focus more on very young weeds at the cotyledon or even earlier. Artificial intelligence on large equipment cannot distinguish between them“, underlines Ghislain Malatesta. Nevertheless, the agronomist is confident. “Manufacturers are working on this point which should produce a solution in the short term”.

Cameras or RTK technology to guide the work

The most effective “low input” approach lies in a chemical-mechanical combination: the herbicide is positioned on the row and the harrow operates between the rows. All-mechanical is proving complicated when the weather is damp“, adds Ghislain Malatesta. Nevertheless, mechanical weed control is increasingly considered to be a complete solution due to the technological progress made. To guide the work between the beet and until the row is covered, nearly half the harrows being demonstrated are fitted with cameras, including those made by Agronomic, a company in the Aisne, or by Einback, Kult, etc. They identify the rows to correct the machine’s position. Guiding device portability solutions are also proposed. Depending on the equipment used, interventions can be carried out at an earlier or later stage. “Flex-tine harrows can tackle weed control early at a two-leaf stage of the beet and on very thin weeds“, states Ghislain Malatesta.


Ghislain Malatesta, Director of the Regional Experimentation and Expertise Department at ITB: “Spot spraying weeds with herbicide can be more accurate with wide booms moving forward at high speed.

Désherb’Avenir, FD 20 FarmDroid robot demonstration

A family of Danish beet growers has adapted the “weedkiller and sower” robot, FD 20 FarmDroid, which has been designed for market gardening. The machine recognises the position of the plant thanks to a GPS recording when sowing. Its cutters thus pass between the plants to destroy the young weeds.

Regulatory – Deciphering the main texts and legislative proposals in Europe and France

Shift in the agenda for the presentation by the European Commission of draft regulations on the sustainable use of pesticides (SUR) and on new genome-editing techniques. The news in France focuses on work on the Ecophyto2030 Plan and the end of discussions to develop the Agricultural Future and Orientation Law and Deal (PLOAA).


SUR Regulation (Sustainable Use Regulation): postponed to 2024?

There is little likelihood of the draft regulation on the sustainable use of pesticides (SUR) being completed in 2023. It is not one of the files that the Swedish Presidency of the European Union Council believes can be finalised in the second half-year. The Presidency has submitted a series of proposals on various technical articles in the draft regulation (Articles 20 to 28). The additional data on the impact of the legislation requested from the European Commission partly explains why the agenda has slipped. Submitted in June 2021, the draft SUR regulation (2022-0196) implements the European Green Deal’s “From farm to fork” strategy.

Bee tests, the assessment protocol for plant protection products has been finalised

Efsa published the guidance document on the risk assessment of plant protection products for honey bees, bumble bees and solitary bees on 11 May. This overhaul work started in 2013 and takes into account the latest scientific knowledge and the most recent methods for risk assessment.

The risk assessment of the exposure and effect of plant protection substances on bees is scheduled in two phases (or levels) to fine tune the results. Seven tests have been retained. All products are subject to tier 1 laboratory tests on isolated individuals (acute oral and contact toxicity of adults, chronic oral toxicity for adult bees and chronic toxicity for larvae). Other tests cover acute oral and contact toxicity of bumble bees (not mandatory in Europe but mandatory in France). To fine tune the assessment and, if necessary, tier 2 tests on entire colonies are scheduled in natural or semi-natural conditions. Thus, the hive return test supplements the tunnel test which existed before 2013. Tier 2 tests are mandatory for insecticides and miticides.

Pest residues, 96.1% of foods compliant with regulations

In its report on food safety published on 26 April, Efsa notes that 96.1% of food product samples analysed in the 27 EU countries as well as Norway and Iceland comply with the regulations. This means that they do not exceed the maximum residue limit (MRL). Checks were made on 87,000 samples of food products. The quantification level is constant as it was 94.9% in 2020 and 96.1% in 2019.

Classification, labelling and packaging

On 31 March 2023, the Commission published Regulation (EU) 2023/707 which amends Regulation (EC) 1272/2008. This regulation instigates new hazard classes and criteria. It entered into force on 20 April 2023.

Legislative framework on genome editing

Initially planned for 7 June, the European Commission has delayed its presentation of the new legislative framework on new genome editing techniques. Why is this? The Commission’s impact study has to be reworked following a negative opinion from the Regulatory Scrutiny Board (RSB).

The text needs to define the specific risk assessment framework for plants coming from directed mutagenesis (genome editing) and cisgenesis.


Ecophyto 2030 Plan, the industry is working to avoid technical stalemate

Government launch on 2 May of the ecological planning workshop on plant protection products. This plan has to anticipate the possible withdrawal of active substances in line with the European timetable and target the most threatened uses. At the same time, it needs to facilitate the development of effective alternative solutions for protecting crops and identify those which could benefit from the France 2030 programme. This work is a precursor to the development one of the Ecophyto2030 Plan sections expected in September. It was announced by Elisabeth Borne on 27 February during the SIMA (agricultural tradefair). The working group led by the Directorate General for Food of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty bring together representatives of farming sectors and professional associations, Inrae, Cirad, Anses, technical institutes and the various directorates of the Ministry of Agriculture. It involves seven sectors: arable crops, fruit and vegetables, aromatic and medicinal plants, vines, horticulture, seeds, ultramarine sectors and a cross-disciplinary group on organic farming.

Agriculture Future and Orientation Law and Deal (PLOAA)

The consultation phase for the stakeholders of the Agriculture Future and Orientation Law and Deal (PLOAA) was completed on 20 April. The crop protection section is addressed by the agroecology and climate change working group. Sector proposals to figure in the deal include combining research and development efforts by companies in the crop protection sector with those of public research institutes and laboratories. For calls for projects, a single unit combined with better visibility of the conditions of eligibility for private companies would represent a real gain in efficiency.

List of biocontrol products

Publication in the Official Bulletin of 8 April of the list of biocontrol products authorised in farming.

S-metolachlor withdrawal

On 20 April, the National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (Anses) withdrew the marketing authorisation of four herbicides containing S-metolachlor. Withdrawals of five other ones relate to uses (maize, sunflower, soy bean, beans, etc.). The ban takes effect on 20 October 2023 for sales and distribution and on 20 October 2024 for use of stocks held by farmers.

List of plant protection uses covered by a safety distance of 10 m

Publication in the Official Bulletin of 6 April of the list of plant protection uses with a local safety distance (or local untreated area) of 10 metres. The 1,174 uses listed match 143 marketing authorisations. The 10-metre safety distance that cannot be reduced for CMR2-classified plant protection products is covered by an order of 14 February 2023. This was published in the Official Journal of 21 March 2023.


Food sectors, AgroLocalogy restores confidence


Let us get to grips with neologisms! AgroLocalogy, a combination of agroecology and local production, reveals the consistency of agri-food company specifications. By combining “environmental protection” with “land”, manufacturers and craftsmen reconnect farmers with consumers.

Quality labels, environmental certifications, agroecological reference frameworks and regenerative agriculture are increasingly being promoted, such as the model supported by Nestlé France in its Living Soils programme. Agricultural transition is secured and the consumer reassured thanks to contractualisation. The Rhone-Alpes Quality Chain label of the miller François Cholat in the Isère illustrates this trend perfectly.

Nevertheless, the contents of the food basket are no longer the same due to inflation in food products, reaching in April 16.7% in one year: less meat, more imported fruit and vegetables grown beyond our borders. Prices are leading the way: they guide and even restrict purchases. Conversely, studies prove that consumers still want healthy local products and play a role in combating climate change. This is in fact the course taken by the sectors. Just like La Coopération Agricole, they are calling for planning to increase the competitiveness of French agricultural products whilst incorporating social and environmental dimensions. The issue of productivity, which is inextricably linked to these issues, is returning to centre stage. The sectors are backing innovation in crop protection. To get away from technical stalemate in fruit and vegetables, partnerships are being forged between manufacturers, public and private research structures and producer organisations. Lastly, to achieve the agroecological transition with the least possible risk, support for farmers is being tailored closely to local constraints. A more sociological definition of agroLocalogy?

Interview with Dominique Chargé, Chairman of La Coopération Agricole

"We need more planning in the quantities and quality to be produced!"

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This is a turning point in ensuring food sovereignty, pinning the notion of value to food and transforming agricultural production models to meet the challenges of climate change and biodiversity.

Agricultural cooperativeswhich are found in all farming sectors and hold 40% of agri-food market shares, have a special place in their own right which is statutorily connected to local farming activity. How can these companies adapt? What can they expect in terms of innovations? Dominique Chargé, Chairman of La Coopération Agricole, believes that the market approach has to be planned in line with social and societal expectations, assisted by digital technology. The watchword for supporting farmers in protecting crops is: 400,000 combining methods have yet to be invented!

Have food sovereignty, climate change and ecological transition issues reshuffled the cards in terms of your customers’ requirements in production methods?

Dominique Chargé: “Current challenges are urging us to put meaning back into food. Our companies cannot be relocated and our employees feel involved in the cooperative spirit, which comes from the region. Our long-term commitment is to perpetuate but also renew and adapt cooperation. Our processing and distributor customers are seeking this local focus, be it in managing our productions connected to farming activities or for communication on our brands. The social and societal aspects are added to food relocation. Social, as part of a fair remuneration for farmers; societal, as we are purveyors of collective well-being. The citizen journeys through our farms. We are capable of providing all the responses to the major issues with priority given to the climate and biodiversity. For example, we have requests relating to deforestation in conjunction with alternative solutions to soy bean to feed the animals. I produce chicken under the Label Rouge label, which ensures free range, fewer birds, feeding with cereals, GMO-free, etc., but these criteria are not enough. The consumer-citizen also requires me to reduce my carbon footprint and expand the biodiversity.

Is more emphasis being placed on supply segmentation?

D.C: We are seeing supply fragmentation in all circumstances which is increasingly difficult to maintain. It exposes the farming industry to increased risk taking. The most flagrant example is without doubt the organic sector. More than 750 of our cooperatives collect and process productions in the organic sector and we are the leader in organic poultry. Nonetheless, consumers are turning away from this and choosing local products, adopting an approach that makes sense, as already mentioned, and also “-free” products. For many people, “-free” is linked to health and we are seeing more and more claims for “pesticide residue-free” and “GMO-free”. In this field, products are taking market share from organics. The Covid-19 health crisis was a strong marker, to which has recently been added the question of price linked to the inflation that impacts all the products. Organic produce must also be accessible in terms of price but we are reaching a limit. Organic is not suffering from a problem of image, but local produce also conveys reassuring criteria: safe, healthy and quality product.

How can the organic sector be revitalised?

D.C: The urgent need is to restore competitiveness, stabilise the sector and stop converting. When you no longer sell your organic chicken and introduce them into the conventional channel, the economic gap is brutal. So who has to pay? Currently, the inter-sector solidarity which is part of cooperative DNA enables compensation. The solution? It lies perhaps in greater flexibility in the organic means of production.

Agricultural models based on agroecology are being deployed more widely. Is a priority focus emerging?

D.C: La Coopération Agricole is not going to commit its members to one approach over another, be it agroecology, agroforestry or regenerative agriculture. They all attest to a transformation of production models to take the challenges of biodiversity and climate change into account better. However, these systems also necessitate changes in economic models to sustain them. In agronomic terms, we can argue, we have references. Conversely, in economic terms, it is far more complex to give our actions more value, whereas the consumer has been accustomed to paying less and less for his food over the last 40 years.

How can we make these transformations secure?

D.C: Our companies are at the interface between producers and consumers. We need to move away from push production to pull production. The only way to achieve this is through a logic of planning between upstream and downstream, in line with changes in demand in terms of quantity and quality. It must be based on all the approaches that support the ecological and energy transitions. Our network of 9,000 advisers is a real force for this!

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In terms of agronomy, the cooperatives have major references obtained especially from tests conducted on farmers’ premises.

What crop protection strategies are included in this planning?

D.C: From agricultural production characterised by standardised farming systems where chemicals and mechanical interventions settled 90% of situations, we are moving towards 400,000 unique farming systems, i.e. the same number as there are farms! Each has its own ecosystem and responds based on its agronomic and economic conditions. A logic of drawers, with a combination of solutions, is being deployed. Tomorrow’s model means biocontrol, agronomy, digital technology and tolerant varieties without counting the agrochemical solutions which are still authorised.

Which innovations do you think are the most efficient in this change of agricultural production model?

D.C: Digital technology, without doubt! An increasing number of so-called agroecological approaches are based on data relating to a precise situation. More digital technology secures our advice on climate change. In addition, bringing 400,000 solutions means more trials on the combined agronomic approach. The same applies to exports, we are going to be asked more and more questions about new ways of managing water and climate change and about the use of pesticides. Digital technology is going to help us justify and run everything. New cross-breeding techniques with genome editing are also needed to speed up the selection of varieties that are more resilient to climatic stress, tolerant to pests, productive and, for the species concerned, richer in protein.

Lastly, the transfer of the innovation between the fundamental research and agriculture is also part of our thinking. Moving from the standardised approach to analysis implies defining a progress trajectory. We need to build on this dynamic on a day-to-day basis and include strategic advice for farms. Innovation can also come from the land. Farmers bring solutions. The benefits of reservoir plants to main crops have been underlined in this way. A fund has been created at Terrena, my cooperative, to handle the risk from these trials. Listen to the land, theorise and duplicate: another exploration path by research.


2 100

agricultural and agri-food cooperatives collect and process 30 to 90% of agricultural raw materials produced by three quarters of French farmers.

1 marque alimentaire sur 3

is made by the cooperatives

93 %

cooperative businesses are very small companies and SME.

Land and history sound better to consumers

Consumers are sensitive to questions of climate change and health and are thus turning to local products. The entire challenge for the food brands is to add value to more virtuous agricultural production by candidly explaining changes in practices, including crop protection.

Are consumers anxious in 2023? Sure. They always have been, in step with geopolitical, economic, environmental and health crises. In terms of expectations, a strong trend is emerging which is starting to dominate: “Climate change is no longer being questioned; better still, consumers wish to feel they have a role in the solution”, shares Sandrine Raffin, Chairman of LinkUp, a consultancy firm specialising in CSR. Regardless of age, depending on where we live and our financial resources, we all engage in a form of activism through our daily actions, to a greater or lesser extent.

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Sandrine Raffin, Chairman of LinkUp, a consultancy firm specialising in CSR.

Food transition supported by local products

In terms of food, the transition towards a less meat-based diet in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector is more nuanced. The proportion of consumers labelling themselves as flexitarian is advancing slowly, from 38% to 48% (2022) in five years. Nevertheless, a good third is persisting in its habits: “36% of the population is not taking part in the food transition, mainly for cultural reasons or because they also see no clear link between food and the climate impact, and 10% say that they are even resistant”, states Sandrine Raffin, basing her comments on an Obsoco survey of December 2021. Vegetarians account for 5% of the population, a ratio that has remained unchanged for ten years. On the other hand, the focus on eating good, healthy and local food stands out in the face of environmental challenges.:Since the Covid-19 crisis, there has been a widespread quest for meaning in food, with a desire to know more about the origins of products and ingredients. The brands have clearly understood this”. She believes that “local”, associated with quality and health, should take precedence in terms of claims over “-free”, such as “pesticide residue-free“, “a criterion that competes with organic produce“.


Nearly one French person in two committed to food transition

Seven standard French profiles, who are more or less committed
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Source : Obsoco, Observatory on the relationship between quality and ethics in the food industry, December 2021

Promoting agricultural production through storytelling

Agri-food sectors and businesses can also tell a story with local production: “There is a strong desire to feel the human element behind the agri-food chain and to reconnect with the French farming industry that consumers love“, adds Sandra Raffin. Normally more virtuous, French productions are suffering from a lack of visibility of their commitments and, ultimately, fairer promotion. Brands like “Pink Lady apples” reveal the value created in the orchards: produced in a French region, tasty with practices in line with the environmental issues. “Crop protection is part of the story by showing that it moves forward with nature after being excessive in the past“, reveals Sandrine Raffin. The idea is not to go through the motions, but to feed the discussion with what speaks to the greatest number of people, in all sincerity and, why not, in a fun way. Gaming, QRcode on the packaging, etc. are all ways that help to explain the agricultural transition.

Today, leading players in the food industry such as Nestlé, Heineken and Kronenbourg are part of this dynamic, hence their support for regenerative agriculture and agroecology,” adds Sandrine Raffin. “It is a major focus of their CSR policy.” So, one story to tell “that speaks to everyone” is about earthworms that live in the soil and bring it to life and another is about cover crops that need to be linked to the issues of carbon storage in the soil, water management, crop diversification and climate change mitigation. In this agricultural model, crop protection explores innovative farming systems: biocontrol, biostimulants, digital technology to monitor pests and agrochemicals, if necessary, to boost its sustainability.


91 %

French people share the certainty that the climate is being disrupted*

72 %

French people feel exposed to a climate disruption risk*

85 %

French people were urged in 2020 to purchase a product because it was regional. This is eight points more than in 2019**

Sources : 

*Ecological transformation barometer, Elabe x Véolia, October 2022.
** Obsoco, Observatory on the relationship between quality and ethics in the food industry, December 2021; Credoc, Consumer trends, June-July 2020.

François Cholat Milling: local, agroecological wheat is reconnecting consumers and farmers

Forerunner in 1997 in traceability from field to mill, Maison François Cholat created the "Rhône-Alpes Quality Chain" label in 2011 to make its local roots more visible. Since then, the company has pursued its progress based on agroecology and is aiming for High Environmental Value (HVE) certification for all its farms.

We make a chauvinistic flour at the Grands Moulins de Thuile“, introduces François Maxence Cholat, Supply Chain Manager of the Maison François Cholat, a family business based in Morestel in the Isère region. He represents the sixth generation.

The land argument, essential for craft bakers

The mill possesses over 150 flour recipes labelled “Rhône-Alpes Quality Chain”. They are made with wheat collected from 250 farms across the region. The local origin and products sought by consumers are promoted especially, slightly tongue in cheek. To publicise these special features, a bread character playing footie has been created using traditional Loire flour! The bread that comes out of the oven with two of its four horns slightly shorter is kneaded with “Pain du Dahut” flour from the Savoie range. A nod to an agile mountain goat, seen by all…

Agroecology, essential to the notion of local

The “Rhône-Alpes Quality Chain thus gives meaning to the ethical commitment of fair remuneration for farmers. Agroecological practices supplement this approach. Producer specifications only include disease-resistant varieties adapted to the regions and crop protection products that are tested in advance by the company’s agronomic department. Preference is given to the combined approach: sulphur for bioprotection, biostimulants and fungicide protection rationale with the Avizio decision aid from Syngenta to treat the wheat only if the risk of disease is demonstrated. By adopting this protection strategy as standard, the company is aiming for High Environmental Value certification for all farmers by 2027.

Nestlé France: the transition of the agri-food sector is based on soil-regeneratve agriculture

To decarbonise the food chain, agri-food industries support farmers in transforming their production models. Nestlé France and its partners rely on the regenerative agriculture approach via the Living Soils programme. What changes are needed for crop protection?

Nearly 70% of raw materials processed by Nestlé France come from French farming. They account for two thirds of the carbon footprint of the finished product. Under its CSR strategy*, Nestlé is aiming to have 20% of its key raw materials coming from regenerative agriculture in 2025. By 2030, half the supplies should be covered. “Several programmes to decarbonise upstream agriculture are currently being rolled out, such as Living soils, an approach run by the NGO EarthWorm, and Low carbon dairy farms based on the expertise of Idele, the French dairy farming institute“, shares Charles Leonardi, General Manager of the Nestlé France supply chain. Nestlé has been working on the topic of the soil, deemed “central” since 2016. The Living Soils programme commenced in 2018.

Ecosystem of companies united around regenerative agriculture

Regenerative agriculture is a long-term approach that now involves an ecosystem of intermediate collection and primary processing structures. It generates additional value for upstream agriculture. Thus, the last Nestlé contractualisation was signed with the cooperative Agora on 3 March 2023 during the SIMA tradefair. It joins the cooperatives Noriap, Unéal, Dijon Céréales and Eureden, the agricultural trader Carré and Saint Louis Sucre.

We are now working with 180 farmers in regenerative agriculture, mainly in arable crops in the Hauts-de-France, Est and Bretagne regions“, states Charles Leonardi. Out of the 300,000 tonnes from French agriculture processed by Nestlé France, over 70,000 tonnes were harvested in 2022 in this context.”

Chain of joint benefits with regenerative agriculture

Regenerative agriculture is essential to making farming more resilient in the face of climatic hazards such as hydric stress and guarantees yields better. There are many joint benefits apart from CO2 storage: biodiversity, improved soil fertility and performance and better pest management, among others. “Working to improve soil health and deploy regenerative agriculture must have the effect of reducing the use of plant protection products through crop rotation and the widespread use of cover crops“, adds Charles Leonardi.

Rewarding progress and not numerical goals

No dogmatism exists in the Living Soils agronomic reference framework, rather a desire to reward progress with bonuses and using indicators that measure progress rather than quantified objectives. “To achieve 50% regenerative agriculture, we are learning as we roll out the programme“, warns Charles Leonardi. The principle is to bring on board also those who have not been using such practices fully. The specification is not fixed.” Five soil quality and carbon storage indicators have been prepared by the EarthWorm Scientific Committee in conjunction with a committee of farmers and a committee of industrialists.

Assess the impact of farming practices another way

The change in farming practices means that the impact indicators introduced by agri-food groups can be reconsidered. “The question of crop protection in conjunction with regenerative agriculture is being discussed so that it can be monitored in the most relevant way”, says Charles Leonardi. The goal is to guide the transition better and produce an overview based on an impact change trajectory”.

*CSR: Corporate Social Responsibility

Saint Louis Sucre

Producing a local sugar with the least possible environmental impact

As a partner in the Living Soils programme since 2019 under a contract with Nestlé France, Saint Louis Sucre is creating references in regenerative agriculture for its growers, “without pitting one type of agriculture against another“, warns Thomas Nuytten, Beet Director.“Some farmers will adopt more or less advanced approaches to the issues of decompaction and soil life“, he ends. Among the innovations assessed on its agroecological farm at Etrépagny, located in the Eure, and as part of its Mont Blanc trials, Saint Louis Sucre is experimenting in weed control with the Farmdroid FD20 robot, biocontrol and biostimulants on both beet and wheat. The agronomic benefit of different cover crops is also compared. “We are thus meeting the expectations of our direct customers and consumers to produce local sugar with the least possible environmental impact“, adds Thomas Nuytten.

The questions raised by the Saint Louis Sucre customer relate especially to the soil cover time in catch crops, the reduced intensity of soil cultivation and monitoring its biological activity. Initiatives to reduce plant protection products are also discussed. “Saint Louis Sucre continues to guarantee that it will not leave its farmers in technical limbo“, underlines Thomas Nuytten.

Thomas Nuytten believes that regenerative agriculture production is synonymous with added value in the contracts with the growers: “Farmers are taking a risk in relation to the yield and are investing in other types of agri-equipment“.

Innovation, the vitamin C of the fruit and vegetable sector

Restoring competitiveness - with a capital C! This is the major challenge of the fruit and vegetable sector. To achieve this, it has to secure its production whilst continuing with the ecological transition.

Semis en godet, maraichage

© Nadège Petit

Weakened by technical stalemate in crop protection and the impacts of climate change, the fruit and vegetable sector is mobilising to construct effective combining solutions. The approach is successful as all the players are involved: research, technical institutes, industrialists, both private and cooperatives, producer organisations, etc., without forgetting the public authorities!

Launched in February 2023, the “sovereignty plan” dedicated to the French fruit and vegetable sector aims to support the players to boost their productive capability whilst responding to the challenges of ecological planning. Its purpose: win back five competitiveness points by 2030. “We are perfectly in tune with this ambition“, underlines Cécile Le Doaré, General Manager of Unilet, the processed vegetable professional association. Conversely, talking of sovereignty, we need to address the question of competitiveness and operational solutions available to farmers for cultivation“. Today, the sector is confronted with technical stalemates that are jeopardising its productions. “In terms of health control, 99% of our major uses are threatened by the withdrawal of an active substance“, she adds. “We therefore need to speed up research, and breeding, of combining solutions to maintain our productions in the region”.

Essai Haricot DSC_0228 Photo 1

A collaborative approach for combining solutions

R&D appears as one of the levers to achieve this. Unilet devotes 70% of its resources to upstream research. One third is set aside for experimenting with new plant protection products, whether chemical or biocontrol substances. The remaining two thirds are set aside for research into agroecological levers: resistant varieties, new technical farming systems, mechanical weed control, etc. The organisation has three experimental stations where it works in conjunction with all players in the sector: agronomic departments of industrialists, crop protection companies, technical institute partners, etc. “All players in the sector are mobilising behind these issues: from producers to downstream companies“, explains Cécile Le Doaré. “The survival of the entire sector is conditioned by our ability to find effective, sustainable and operational responses to these challengesTogether, we upgrade the specifications to respond to society’s expectations and to maintain sustainable production conditions for the farmers“.

The Unilet professional association brings together 16 producer organisations and 10 vegetable processing companies. Representing one third of vegetable surface areas in France, it supplies 40% of the French market with tinned and frozen vegetables and exports the equivalent mainly for the European markets.

Sterile insects to control the common fruit fly

Although some solutions are already operational, others are still at the experimental stage. The National Fruit Producer Federation is, for example, conducting experiments with CTIFL (Fruit and Vegetable Professional Association Technical Centre) and Inrae in combating the common cherry fruit fly, the main threat to this production. They are testing the sterile insect technique (SIT). Sterile male fruit flies are released during the reproduction period to mate with the females. “This is a technique developed in Canada to control the codling moth in apple trees”, explains Françoise Roch, Chairman of the National Fruit Producer Federation. “After two or three years, the pressure from the pest has dropped considerably. Nevertheless, about three years and 5 to 10 million in aid would be needed to roll out such a solution on French farms“.

Fewer residues with micro-injection

The federation has also identified other channels, such as micro-injection. Principle : the farmer injects an active substance directly into the tree’s sap network, thereby avoiding foliar treatment. Banned in France on fruit trees, the technique could prove effective in combating scab and aphids in apple trees. “The regulations would have to be upgraded and the treatment method industrialisedWithout a signal from public policy, equipment manufacturers or firms will not invest in developing practical tools for farmers. And yet, this innovation has many advantages. The residues measured are far fewer than those recorded during foliar treatment and the harmlessness for the end consumer complies broadly with the regulations“, underlines Françoise Roch.

Cécile Le Doaré, General manager of Unilet :

Maintaining and developing a French vegetable production and value chain is an economic issue that also responds to a question of public health: for a healthy, balanced and quality diet. We are deploying a collective social responsibility approach and are communicating more towards the public authorities and our stakeholders about changes in our crop protection practices. Our goal is to call on all players to become involved in the search for solutions and in building sustainable progress for our sector“.

Françoise Roch, Chairman of the National Fruit Producer Federation:

Requirements vary from one contact to the next in mass-market retailing. Some require no more than four residues on the fruit. Others demand certain practices, like the ban on using active substances. Lastly, certification like the High Environmental Value is becoming a condition of access to certain markets. We have invested to bring us in line with the new specifications. The majority remunerate these efforts financially. Conversely, during a period of inflation like in recent months, the price factor quickly takes over. Major retailers therefore favour standard products, often produced outside France, at the expense of our quality French fruit“.

Carte blanche to Stéphane Grossin, photographer specialising in agriculture

"Working methods in agriculture are changing and becoming mechanised for better practices and optimised yield". Snapshots taken in tomato glasshouses in Gironde and when picking carrots in the field in the Landes. Labour is invaluable and has to adapt to the many rules, be fast and multi-tasking, from the field to the packaging and shipping stations.


Heard, Read!

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275 million euros have been invested in France in 2022 by Phyteis members into research and development of innovative solutions (digital technology, bioprotection, biostimulation, plant protection, etc.).

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Pamela Ronald, geneticist and professor in the Department of Plant Pathology and the Genome Centre at the University of California, Davis: “Biotechnologies are one of the keys to meeting the challenges of climate change, reducing inputs and ensuring a sustainable global food supply“.20 April, during the presentation of her book “Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food”, published by Editions AgriDées.

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Daniel Moñino-López’ doctoral thesis, presented on 14 April at Wageningen University (WUR) in the Netherlands, is a breakthrough in the fight against potato blight. Using CRISPR/Cas gene-editing technology, he has made seed potatoes resistant to blight caused by Phytophthora infestans. He has done this without inserting foreign DNA into the potato genome. The resistance gene comes from a wild potato.

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General drop in TFI in Dephy farms

On 25 April 2023, Dephy Ferme published on EcophytoPIC a global analysis of figures from the entire network. The decline is widespread between the Treatment Frequency Indicator recorded when farms joined the network and the one calculated on average from 2018 to 2020. Depending on the sectors, the drop is 18% (tropical crops) to 38% (fruit growing). Two other summaries involve the results for the vegetable sector, with trends in the use of biocontrol, and those for the vine growing sector.

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“MEPs adopt resolution to combat overtransposition of European agricultural directives […]“. The resolution comprises a single article formulating nine recommendations to the government, such as the generalisation of mirror clauses (in particular the regulation on the sustainable use of pesticides, SUR). Any ban on the marketing of plant protection products should also be made conditional “on the existence of effective alternative solutions that do not entail any loss of yield or […] unacceptable additional production costs”, say the MEPs, referring to the ban on neonicotinoids for beet. Marc Fesneau, the Minister for Agriculture, who defends the proposed resolution, believes that certain transitions are necessary “in the interest [of all], including the farming industry, but they can take time“. In this context, “the issue of mass innovation is key” in convincing the farmers”, he has underlined.
Contexte Agro, edition of 12 May.

Business highlights

Find out all the national and international news from Phyteis members from February to May 2023. Initiatives and partnerships in digital farming, structural mergers to accelerate research into bioprotection and also marketing are among the highlights of the sector.

Orge Hiver 6 Rangs

© Nadège Petit


Ascenza has invested in a several digital tools to accelerate the growth of its digital communications and, above all, to understand its customers better and provide them with exclusive, relevant content tailored to their needs and expectations.

To simplify and secure the use of these plant protection products, Adama has created the DIGI.DOCS.AGRI. Posters, infographics and brochures can be downloaded here.

On 9 May, at the Interpack trade fair held in Düsseldorf, Germany, the easyconnect Closed Transfer System (CTS) won an award in the “Design focused on convenience and user benefits” the Pack the Future Awards trophy category. Awarded by the German IK Association for Plastic Packaging and its French partner ELIPSO, the prize is aimed at innovative and sustainable packaging solutions.

Action Pin obtained B Corp certification on 8 May. ACTION PIN joins a global community of more than 6,500 goal-oriented companies that meet the high standards of social and environmental responsibility and transparency established by this movement.


Climate FieldView from Bayer and Wanaka are becoming interoperable to simplify modulation and management of nitrogen fertilisation.

climate Wanaka

The French organic product company, Agrauxine by Lesaffre has signed a distribution agreement with Sumi Agro France, the French subsidiary of Sumitomo Corporation, and Certis Belchim, the subsidiary of the Japanese company, Mitsui & Co.

Syngenta Crop Protection and Biotalys, the Belgian biocontrol product company, have agreed to work together on the research, development and marketing of new bioprotection solutions for many crops.


The Bosch BASF Smart Farming joint venture is becoming “ONE SMART SPRAY”. The first mass production runs of sprayers equipped with the Smart Spraying Solution are scheduled with Dammann for next Spring (Germany and Hungary) and with AGCO’s Fendt Rogator sprayers for 2024 (Americas and Europe).

The blight risk management tool Mileos from Arvalis can now be accessed from xarvio Field Manager from BSF. Hosted and maintained by Arvalis, the model continues to be improved through the Institute’s R&D work.

#1906120363 - crédit Nadège PETIT @agri_zoom_792x445

Between 2018 and 2022, the Mileos decision-making tool from Arvalis saved an average on five points in the treatment frequency indicator (TFI). It was used by 60% of growers in 2022.

© Nadège Petit


Corteva Agriscience has completed the acquisition of Symborg, the Spanish crop bioprotection solutions provider, as well as US biostimulants specialist, Stoller.


Regrow Ag and xarvio® Digital Farming Solutions are joining forces to advance agricultural practices in favour of decarbonisation. Incorporated into Xarvio (the smart agriculture platform), the Regrow software uses a remote detection model. It estimates the nutrient cycle in the soil, including the carbon cycle and the amount of carbon stored in the soil.


Climate FieldView, Bayer’s digital agricultural data collection and analysis agronomic platform, has acquired the Data Agri label. The tool thus meets the Data Agri Charter developed by FNSEA and the JA. The label certifies that Climate FieldView uses plot information securely and transparently and that the information remains the property of the farmers.

Bayer Crop Science has signed an agreement to become exclusive distributor of certain pheromone-based plant protection products from the French semiochemistry company, M2i.