Beyond the values advocated by organic farming, SICA Gerfruit has decided to take its commitment to agroecology even further. Given the lack of studies on the topic, the company chose to create its own database to measure the actual impact of its activity on biodiversity.
Romain Tessier, producer and co-president of Mylord, presented the Beeguard project at Fruit Attraction 2022
Lack of data
“There are questions we currently cannot give a precise answer to. Our tools to fight against pests are becoming more and more limited so we must find new control techniques to protect our crops. Additionally, the active molecules authorized on the market are also increasingly limited. But what is the real impact of our practices for each plot? The answers are not necessarily where we want them to be. For a certain product, we indeed noticed that although the insect population decreased after application, it returned to its original levels two weeks later. This data can be particularly interesting in helping us find the perfect balance between protecting our orchards and biodiversity,” explains Baptiste Geoffray, innovation manager at SICA Gerfruit.
“Science and knowledge will help us find a balance”
It is with the help of the Swing.bio apple, a variety that is naturally resistant to a number of pests and the first French organic variety to be certified Bee Friendly, that SICA Gerfruit decided to increase its knowledge in the field in order to best assess the company’s impact. To this end, SICA Gerfruit is involved in the Beeguard connected hives project.
“It is through science and knowledge that we will be able to find a balance. This project will help us determine with great precision what the impact of our orchards is on the activity of beneficial organisms. The objective is to keep them in our orchards as much as possible. To do this, we will use bees as sentinels, try to quantify their food bowl within our orchards and make the link with honey production. All our Swing.bio orchards are monitored by an entomologist, which is quite exceptional for any variety. This expert helps us measure the beneficial impact of our practices, select the species to plant between the rows according to the beneficial organisms we want to attract and set up a biodiversity indicator in our orchards.”
This is a serious project that will provide solid arguments for the implementation of certain practices such as the planting of flower strips. “These days, flower strips are popular. They are said to favor the presence of pollinators, but to what extent? Today, very few serious studies have been conducted on the topic. We do suspect that flower strips are interesting for biodiversity, but we do not know their real impact on the evolution of the populations, especially if they are not correlated with the other environmental factors.”
© SICA Gerfruit Swing.bio
Swing.bio: pilot orchards for a large-scale project
The study will focus on the Swing.bio at first, but SICA Gerfruit intends to extrapolate the knowledge acquired to the other varieties the company grows. “When we will have answers, we will see how to adapt them to each variety and each orchard of SICA Gerfruit in order to come up with virtuous pest control techniques. Ultimately, we strive to have the most virtuous orchards possible.”