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Organic farming to preserve water quality?Comparison of three emblematic cases of successful management of drinking water catchment area

Barataud, Fabienne; Aubry, C.; Wezel, A.; Mundler, P. and Fleury, Philippe (2013) Organic farming to preserve water quality?Comparison of three emblematic cases of successful management of drinking water catchment area. [L’Agriculture Biologique pour préserver la qualité de l’eau ? Comparaison de trois cas emblématiques, en France et en Allemagne.] Innovations Agronomiques, 32, pp. 481-495.

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Document available online at: http://www6.inra.fr/ciag/Revue/Volume-32-Novembre-2013


Protecting water resources from pollutants generated by agricultural activities is becoming more strictly regulated in Europe today, with an obligation to achieveresults. This means that towns willing to improve quality of their domestic water supply are required to regulate farmers’ practices in the water catchment areas. In this paper, we studied three cases (Munich and Augsburg in Germany, and Lons-le-Saunier in France) often listed as successful initiatives/ experiences of preservation of water quality by local authorities that have developed coordination with farmers. In this paper, we carried out a comparative analysis of the construction of city-farmer agreements, based on in-depth surveys and with a particular focus on the role of conversion to organic farming in these agreements. We highlighted several significant differences between these three case studies, with regard to the delimitation of the city’s field of action, the nature of compensation proposed to the farmers, the direct involvement of the city council in the acquisition of land in the vulnerable zone, and the importance granted to organic farming. However, in all three cases we also found similarities, such as the importance, for successful city-farmer coordination, of a facilitator as an intermediary between the two parties, as well as dialogue and contracts that span sufficiently long periods. When these conditions are met, which is the case in the two German cities, the results on the water quality are positive. From this point of view, the German water utilities’ status as “private companies owned by the city” seems to be highly conducive to the introduction of truly environment-friendly practices by farmers. In contrast, in the French case, the greater weight of regulatory constraints on the establishment of direct relations with farmers tends to prevent any fluidity in modes of action and to trigger tensions. Finally, the specific study of the role of conversion to organic farming in the solutions proposed and accepted by the farmers highlights a number of factors needed for the territorial development of this typeof farming: a strong political will that translates into high financial incentives, guaranteed local markets for organic products, and necessary technical support. These factors nevertheless remain insufficient in two of the three case studies, and only the city of Munich, starting off with a particularly favourable situation, has been able to achieve a territorial development of organic farming in tandem with the preservation of its water resources.

Summary translation

La protection des ressources en eau vis-à-vis des pollutions d’origine agricole fait l’objet en Europe d’une réglementation renforcée comportant aujourd’hui des obligations de résultats ce qui incite les villes à agir sur les pratiques des agriculteurs dans les Aires d’Alimentation de Captages. Dans ce travail, les modalités de construction des accords entre trois collectivités (Munich et Augsburg en Allemagne, Lons-le-Saunier en France) et les agriculteurs sont analysées à partir de données secondaires et d’entretiens directs auprès d’acteurs régionaux. Examinant tout particulièrement la place qu’occupe dans ces accords l’incitation à la conversion vers l’Agriculture Biologique, nous avons identifiéainsi des facteurs favorables mais non nécessairement suffisants à son développement : systèmes de production initialement extensifs, filières biologiques structurées et demandeuses, incitations financières attractives, importance d’un facilitateur technique intermédiaireet inscription du dialogue et des contrats sur des temps suffisamment longs.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:Water quality, Water catchment areas, Contractualization, Organic farming
Subjects: Environmental aspects > Air and water emissions
Food systems > Policy environments and social economy
Values, standards and certification > Evaluation of inputs
Research affiliation: France > Agribio
France > INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique
France > ISARA - Institut supérieure d’agriculture Lyon
Related Links:http://www6.inra.fr/comite_agriculture_biologique/Les-publications/Actes-DinABio-2013, http://www6.inra.fr/ciag
Deposited By: PENVERN, Servane
ID Code:26018
Deposited On:12 Aug 2014 14:51
Last Modified:12 Aug 2014 14:51
Document Language:French/Francais
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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