LIFE Biodiv’Paysanne

Interview on the support for the agroecological transition of the Salelles - Rieucros farm in Aveyron

Cover picture : Nino, Léa & Ghislain, GAEC Salelles – Rieucros ©TDL-Eléonore Henry de Frahan

Interview with Ghislain & Léa Cabal-Zinck, co-owners of the Salelles – Rieucros farm in Aveyron (12). They tell their vision about the future of agriculture. 

Can you please introduce your group and your farm ?

Since 2010 and its creation, the Agricultural Grouping of Common Exploitation of Salelles has evolved a lot. Today and since 2016, we are three owners, an apprentice and a part-time employee working in organic farming on the 90ha of crops/meadows and on the 70ha of forests on the farm. There are two production workshops: a “historic” milk sheep breeding workshop which produces milk for Roquefort Papillon Bio and generates about three incomes, and a “farmer baker” workshop created in 2016 which generates an income by producing twice a week, organic sourdough bread, sold in short circuits.

Why are you involved in the LIFE Biodiv’Paysanne project ?

Over the past decades, the accumulation of reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) has provided evidences of the negative impact of human activities, including agriculture, on the climate change and the biodiversity erosion. At the scale of our farm, we have suffered from multiples summer heat waves in the past years, which have significantly affected our working methods whereas our production is organic and has been well established for more than 20 years. Grassland production that allows us to feed our flock of sheep is constantly decreasing, which affects our autonomy and questions the balance of the farm.

Whether globally or only on the scale of our farm, we know that time is running out before the situation becomes irreversible. Each degree gained on the inevitable increase in temperatures will make a noticeable difference in terms of the life quality on our planet/farm. The agroecological transformation of our production methods of our farm seems necessary and urgent for us. We are forced to modify our operating system to adapt to climate change while stopping contributing to it, or even trying to reverse the trend. While local actions are laborious and have very little effect on global climate change, we know these actions can rather have fast and significant effects on biodiversity. The ecosystem services thus rendered will improve our adaptability and our resilience. In this context, taking part in a project like LIFE Biodiv’Paysanne only makes good sense !

It is difficult to know what we have to do : improve our practices but not find the means, the solutions, the avenues to explore, the concrete adaptations to test or set up on our farm. We unfortunately don’t have the time to think, to share experiences with others, to train ourselves in new practices, to try other agronomic techniques on annual crops because our “basic” workload is heavy… and yet it is imperative and urgent to do so ! So for us, getting involved in the LIFE Biodiv’Paysanne project means a bit of “taking action” and it allows us to feel less powerless in the face of climate change, which we feel day by day in a very concrete and violent way because of our farming profession and our proximity to nature.

What do you hope to find in the project and what will it bring you?

As mentioned above, time is running out before the situation becomes even more critical and irreversible. Pragmatism and efficiency seem essential for us as we have hopes to achieve a great result. In this way, the LIFE Biodiv’Paysanne project and the expertise of the stakeholders such as CEN Occitanie, Solagro and Terre de Liens, as well as all the associated beneficiaries, is the most appropriate to offer us a robust scientific framework in order to co-construct together the most relevant tools and actions to improve biodiversity on our farm. Accompanied by these organizations and with a significant budget granted by the European Commission and the co-financers, we feel confident and more serene to develop our farm a little more on the path of agroecology, to make it more resilient, viable and livable for the farmers who will work there after us. Being a Terre de Liens farm, we also bear this responsibility.owners

Interviewed : Ghislain & Léa Cabal-Zinck

Interviewer & writer : Gaëlle Vives, Terre de Liens Midi-Pyrénées

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