Leading player in the farming industry in the north-east of France
French leader in the distribution of agricultural supply
Sepac / VAUTHIER Sepac
1st agriculture trader in Haute-Marne
1st regional agriculture and viti-viniculture wholesale
A leader in bulk freight in the North and East of France and Benelux
VIVESCIA AGRICULTURE IN FIGURES
Spotlight on the farmers and VIVESCIA cooperative experts who work so closely together...
2000 : 1st wheat production chain contract with Nestlé Baby Foods 2009 : 1st land mapping campaign 2015 : Commitment to the Nestlé Cereals France Préférence programme for wheat 2019 : Construction of a plant protection product effluent treatment system / Commitment to HEVcertification
Nicolas, since taking over the family farm, you have introduced a policy of continuous progress... Yes, that’s right. I’ve made the transition from conventional agriculture to sustainable agriculture. My goal in doing that is to maintain yields, at the same time as protecting the soil and biodiversity on my land. And VIVESCIA is helping me to achieve that. It’s definitely the agriculture of tomorrow. Another advantage is that I get more value out of the grain I grow, especially through partnerships with major agrifood companies. And my daughter proudly tells her friends that the biscuits they’re eating are made with her dad’s grain!
Would you say that these production partnerships with customers are another source of progress for you? Definitely! Production charters are demanding, but they’re perfect for our regions, because they’re produced in conjunction with the Cooperative's Agronomic and Sales teams. So these days, when production is driven by the markets, the support and visibility I get through VIVESCIA as a result of its agrifood industry links are valuable assets. Looking to the future, I think these charters will become the norm. And that’s why I’ve extended this way of working to every part of my farm. I’m getting ahead of the curve! The specifications allow me to ramp up production gradually. In the end, we had no problem securing HEV certification after I decided to commit to that standard. It’s essential if we’re to meet public expectations.
Do you have any other plans for getting ahead of the curve? Digital technology is playing an increasingly important role in agriculture. That's why I’m taking part in the tests conducted by the VIVESCIA New Technologies team. I’m also involved in a anaerobic digestion project with four other farmers. If I’m going to ensure the long-term future of my farm, I must have several strings to my bow!
1988 : Joined the family farm 1990 : Took his first practical steps towards introducing conservation agriculture 2019 : Successful direct drilling of wheat, despite heavy rainfall (something not achievable in a ploughing-based system) Cyriaque, why did you decide to focus on soil conservation agriculture? When I took over the farm, it was being farmed conventionally, and I very quickly decided begin raising Ardennes Red Turkeys and make the transition to sustainable agriculture. And then I discovered conservation agriculture! Actually, both are about conservation: the first is about preserving the genetic heritage of a traditional form of regional poultry farming, and the second is about preserving the organic matter in the soil by doing away entirely with ploughing and introducing plant cover.
Except that conservation agriculture isn’t something you can make up as you go along! Definitely not! You really do need very close guidance and detailed advice. And that's precisely what you get from the VIVESCIAgrosol club, which enabled me to start making real progress. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that more and more people are coming together for VIVESCIA soil assessment visits! There’s always something new to learn! And even though we’re not all as advanced as each other in this type of agriculture, we all share our experiences. So the fact that a new agronomics engineer specialising in conservation agriculture has joined VIVESCIA is great news!
What appeals to you most about this way of farming? It’s the direct relationship I have with the living world and the soil; with what’s above and what’s beneath the surface of my land! We’re relearning agronomy. And I'm protecting my soil for the future. That’s pretty essential for a farmer, don’t you think? But I’m not at all tribal about these things; I believe that every type of agriculture can, and must, learn from others...
VIVESCIA Innovation, Agronomy and Environment Expert
2009 : Water & Biodiversity IAE: a new position within the Cooperative 2012/2014 : Impact study of pollinators in the development of rapeseed crop yields 2016/2017 : 700 metres of educational hedgerows planted for field training workshops 2019 : Installation of connected weighing scales in two beehives Xavier, at VIVESCIA, an IAE is a specialist agronomist. So what do you specialise in? Well, I actually specialise in three areas: water protection to reduce the impact of agriculture on groundwater, biodiversity conservation, because many of the insects crucial to our crops need this diversity of habitats, and potatoes, because at VIVESCIA, we support all our cooperative farmers for all their crops!
So how does that work in practice? Many farmers have already embraced more sustainable principles. It’s my job to come up with innovative agronomic solutions that optimise their farming practices, validate them via precise protocols, and pass them on to my Field Agronomy Expert colleagues and the Technical Sales Experts who advise farmers. My colleagues also call me in when farmers come up against a problem for which no specific solution yet exists. I then work on the issue involved to identify the best solution.
What about biodiversity, for example? It’s the interaction of species and their environment that generates biodiversity. These interactions must therefore be encouraged so that we can ‘cultivate’ biodiversity! Seeds and the diversity of species and varieties are powerful levers for adapting to environmental constraints. Added to which, the planting of hedgerows to include trees and shrubs of differing heights is an effective way of recreating wildlife oases in today’s open arable landscapes.
2002 : BTS vocational qualification in plant technologies 2009 : VIVESCIA Technical Sales Representative 2015 : Took over the family farm VIVESCIA Field Agronomy Expert 2019 : Leadership of workshops during theVIVESCIA Local Days events Vincent, you’re a VIVESCIA Field Agronomy Expert. What exactly does that role involve? My job is to provide agronomic support to the Technical Sales Representatives who work alongside farmers in the field. But I often visit farmers with them. At VIVESCIA, the provision of agronomic support really is a team effort. And information needs to flow rapidly and efficiently to provide farmers quickly with the solutions they need.
What is it you need to provide the best support for field teams and farmers? I can identify several factors: a detailed knowledge of the local land, soils and crops, R&D and the Group's ability to experiment in-situ with innovations in partnership with farmers, the support provided by the various DST* and the connected resources at our disposal, and the number and quality of observations made every Monday for nine months of the year by around a hundred of our employees…
But how can you make certain that the service you provide to farmers is consistent with their expectations in your sector? What really matters is listening and local presence so that you have a clear understanding of the farm and the farmer, the nature of his land, his organisational structure, his expectations, his agricultural equipment, etc. What I love most about this job is when I meet the farmer again at a winter agronomic meeting and he tells me that our recommendations were useful to him. That’s the way we can build long-term trust-based relationships…
1995 : Computerisation of input acceptance management 2000 : New grain analysis solutions 2007 : Appointed Area Manager after 25 years in technical sales 2019 : The introduction of artificial intelligence into silos (variety recognition system)
Bruno, what actually is the mission of an area manager? I plan and organise work on seven silos in the Marne department of France, including the shipping silo at Matougues. In other words, I coordinate incoming and outgoing stocks, stock management, and team scheduling and safety to ensure that everything runs smoothly. Because what’s at stake is the quality of grain entrusted to us. The work we do must be done properly to ensure that we maximise its value!
When you talk about maximising the value of grain, what does that actually mean? When we receive grain at harvest time, we clean it and assess its potential - protein content, for example - and sort it into sizes to create consistent batches of grain that are stored separately, ventilated, temperature-monitored, and allocated on the basis of customer specifications. Our strength lies in the professionalism and versatility of my team. If we need to, we have no hesitation in working round-the-clock in three eight-hour shifts! The thing I’m most proud of is the gratitude of our farmers, because they appreciate that we’ve done our very best to maximise the value of the grain they have grown. And that’s especially true when the harvest quality is poor!
As on-farm storage continues to expand, what will be the role of the silo manager going forward? Shipping silos will continue to ship grain! But in the future, my job will also expand to help and support farmers who store grain by explaining how best to do so on the basis of best practice for the best outcome. And that process has already begun! When we receive grain from farmers’ own storage facilities, I use it as an opportunity to get that kind of information across: how to maintain grain health standards to ensure food safety depending on the external temperature, humidity level, etc. For some of them, grain storage is a totally new experience. So they need my help and support.