The art of looking after grain at VIVESCIA

Prendre soin du grain chez VIVESCIA

To produce good grain, you need to take care of it from seed to harvest.
Born in the heart of an expert grain-growing region, the VIVESCIA cooperative group is part of this adventure. Its strength lies in the fact that it brings together farmers, agronomists, millers, bakers, and pastry chefs... and that they all strive to look after the grain!

We often tend to forget it, but nature isn't naturally bountiful. And you can't just grow any crop anywhere, on any land…

To produce good quality grain, you need to look after it: to create and choose the right seeds for the farmer's projects and soil, and which meet market demand; to conduct regular field trips, keeping an eye on the crops to warn the cooperative and other farmers to prevent disease, to define the nature and modalities of treatment if necessary, and to harvest and store the grain in the right conditions…

That's the grain farmer's long game: from seed to harvest, VIVESCIA Agriculture's experts and agronomists work alongside every farmer!

The right seed is a seed that reconciles the needs of the farmer with the expectations of manufacturers and consumers!

Farmers want good yields thanks to varieties that are compatible with their soil and regional climate, and if possible, naturally resistant to parasites, diseases, and lodging (meaning that the stem does not break easily).

The manufacturers that process the grain expect specific characteristics (protein content, viscosity, etc.) depending on the products they are making (bread, pastries, semolina, malt, etc.). There are specific varieties that are best suited to each processed product.

Consumer expectations are clearly focused on the reduction of pesticides, for products that are as natural as possible. 

So expectations are many and varied, but the three stakeholders agree on one objective: greater productivity with the least possible environmental impact! Manufacturers aim for this to take consumers' and citizens' expectations into account; and farmers’ motivations are to produce good quality grain, protect their soil, and reduce their production costs: at constant yields, the less pesticides they use, the lower their costs…

And at every point, VIVESCIA's agronomic teams look after the grain!

Their job is to find agronomic solutions to farmers' problems. The objective: to promote responsible and sustainable farming. Environmentally sustainable, in that it protects the soil's natural resources and biodiversity; and sustainable for farmers too, because it enables them to make a decent living. And this is where VIVESCIA's various experts come in…

They all work together, in partnership with research institutes, public and private R&D laboratories, and VIVESCIA's plant chemistry specialists.

And they can often be found in the fields, sowing test plots and monitoring their experiments (taking samples, making analyses, producing reports, etc).

Our IAE (Innovation Agronomy Environment) experts specialise in specific crops or themes (e.g. grain varieties, maize, etc.). These agronomists work in collaboration with the FAEs (Field Agronomy Experts) in order to find solutions for various issues in the field. In order to do that, they conduct trials on various themes in their fields, with the help of the experimenters.

The expert's perspective
José Collet
VIVESCIA FAE (Field Agronomy Expert) manager

We start doing weekly field trips immediately after the crops are sown!

To find solutions that meet farmers' needs, we also need to be in the field with them. We inform them of the innovations and experiments conducted in VIVESCIA's territory. We also pass on any observations to the IAE that may be useful for their research on sustainable farming. No fewer than 100 technicians and agronomists criss-cross the region, reporting on what they see in order to provide a review of the state of all crops throughout VIVESCIA's territory. This review is provided to all VIVESCIA cooperative members every week in the VIVESCIA Cultures newsletter. This information is vital in helping them to plan the coming week's schedule!

Our strength is in the number of technicians we have on the ground. It gives us an in-depth understanding of what's going on in the actual fields. And as we've been travelling the length and breadth of VIVESCIA's territory for decades, we also have an understanding of each field's history. This allows us to provide highly customised support for each farm. We can provide farmers with advice on the varieties that are best suited to their soil, as well as helping them choose which crop to grow based on demand from food manufacturers…

Our experimenters conduct field trials in real conditions, in close collaboration with agronomists and partner farmers, in order to choose the varieties that are best suited to the soil, climate, and customers’ needs.

Les expérimentateurs conduisent les essais en conditions réelles sur des parcelles en collaboration étroite avec les agronomes et les agriculteurs partenaires afin de déterminer les variétés les plus adaptées au terroir et aux clients.

Le saviez-vousDid you know?

Of the 600 plots under observation by VIVESCIA's technicians and agronomists, 80 are used to produce the Bulletins de Santé du Végétal (plant health bulletin) published by the authorities.

In the Grand Est, Hauts-de-France, and Ile-de-France regions, VIVESCIA is one of the biggest contributors to this data collection program.

The expert's perspective
Angéline Cuif
IAE (Innovation Agronomie Environnement) expert

Being an agronomist is about finding innovative solutions. But it's also about sharing our know-how with farmers!

"We provide our expertise on all crops to farmers throughout the year. Our role is really to monitor farming innovations and resolve farmers' problems by testing new varieties, fertilisation solutions, agronomic techniques, and new species for different types of soil. Our advice is based on the results of trials conducted every year on a wide variety of themes.

During the winter, when things are quieter in the fields, our team of agronomists presents the results of its work and shares what it has learned. We organise information meetings on specific themes. We also publish various documents that describe the results of trials and provide advice for farmers, like the Guide VIVESCIA (VIVESCIA Guide), the Dossiers de l’Agronomie (Agronomy files), and the weekly VIVESCIA Cultures bulletin. The Field Agronomy Expert and sales reps also pass these messages on to farmers. We can also make visits to farmers at their request, to conduct trials and take additional measures to resolve their problem.

Harvest time

The harvest is always a period of intense activity. And no wonder; it's the culmination of a whole year's work! Follow the harvest on social media, with the hashtag #MaMoissonVIVESCIA, on our Twitter account, and our Facebook page.

Once the grain has been harvested, it must be stored

Whether it be on the farm or in a silo, nothing is left left to chance in terms of storage conditions. The grain must be ventilated regularly, we must monitor its temperature and bring it down gradually in several stages, as well as making samples and preparing homogenous batches of grain that will be dispatched to food processing companies.

The journey

The grains travel, but they don’t all travel the same way.
In fact, everything depends on the destination and the customer's demands. Some grains travel by road, others take the train because the railway runs through the factories they are going to. Others still prefer to take the barge. Some even sail the seas! Some barley grown in Champagne-Ardenne, for example, takes the boat all the way to China.