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FOCUS ON MAÍZE
Climate change can already be seen in all Europe
The last decade (2002–2011) have been the warmest. During the 50 last years, there is an accentuation of lack of water in severals regions of France and the lowest flows on rivers starts sooner then before (even in Bretagne in North Ouest, a traditionaly humid area). During summer, the Dry periods most likely will be considered as « normal » in 2070.
Irrigation is the main water consumer
In summer in France, up to 79% of water is by agriculture. It is concentrated during 3 months, which generally coincided with the lowest flows in rivers, and benefits principally to maize.
Maize is water greedy when the level is low
During its life, a maize crop needs 74 liters (50 bottles of 1 litter 1/2), which is 4,5 millions bottles per hectare !
The needs are specialy importants in the 40-60 days during the flowering stage. But this period happens between half-june and half-august. Or it is precisely the moment where the rainfall is low.
Political decisions support irrigation
For a long time, farmers have receive huge subsidies to improve their irrigation system. The « Climate change Plan » has bring mesures since 2011 to reduce water catchment...
Expensive water bodies, which sustains intensive methods
…but in the same time , support expensives water bodies projects (90 millions euros). They willl be field in winter pumping in rivers and underground aquifers, with consequences on their volumes and on biodiversity.
Back to native seeds
Actions are leaded by the Native Seeds Network (réseau Semences Paysannes) to safeguard native maize seeds. They are adapted to organic farming with low fertilisers.
Native maize are C4 crops, as millets. They can both be used in cultivation plans to allow us to be stronger to cope with climate change.
Water efficient cultures to feed animals
Thanks to hybridation, maize could have been adapted to France’s climate. Its introduction was a politic decision (influenced by americain agriculture), and facilitated by a easier way to feed animals (under corn silage form)
Sorgo can be an alternative. Subsidies could be redirected to inform and teach farmers how to shift from maize to Sorgo.