Climate change: innovative practices presented to farmers

The Sun – Roxanne Langlois

Forty or so farmers from the region took advantage on Wednesday of a day of initiation to new practices in the field aimed at helping their businesses better cope with climate change. This activity is part of the Regenerating Agriculture approach of the Fédération de l’UPA de la Gaspésie-Les Îles. Two businesses that are accompanied in order to adapt their practices to the phenomenon, the Capino farm in Caplan and the Bergerie du Margot in Bonaventure, welcomed the group of farmers. Biodiversity in forage plants, cover crop systems, improved crop rotation: several alternatives to counteract the extreme variations caused by climate change were presented to the participants. We have been experiencing situations resulting from climate change for a few years now and there are solutions that we can bring to farmers in Gaspésie, mentions Louis Pérusse, agronomist and founder of SCV Agrologie. Mr. Pérusse accompanied the two Gaspesian host farms of the day. According to the agro-ecological approach specialist, Wednesday’s activity was specifically aimed at presenting new production paradigms in agriculture, which are likely to sow reflections and questioning among the main stakeholders. “

From the openness observed

For the general manager of the Federation of the UPA of Gaspésie-Les Îles, Guy Gallant, the drought experienced by farmers over the past three years has helped raise awareness about the importance of adapting to climate change. Yes, there needs to be a change [in practices], because buying hay or running out of hay every year is not the fun, the manager argues. According to Mr. Gallant said the transition to practices that adapt to the climate change phenomenon will ask for time in the regions, as well as funds. It’s not done in a snap of the fingers, he admits, nonetheless optimistic about the interest of Gaspé producers.

A pioneering farm in the field

Capino Dairy Farm of Caplan owner Patrick Arsenault began working with agronomist Louis Pérusse in 2015. The farmer is something of a Gaspesian pioneer in adapting practices to climate change. Arsenault remembers his first contact with Pérusse very well. It was a first encounter that was quite moving. I was still doing a good job, but he brought me to another level, to question myself and observe certain things, explains the farmer. A program to improve soil quality and drainage was undertaken on the Baie-des-Chaleurs farm. Biodiversity has also been gradually introduced within the company’s forage plants. We have practically doubled the yields, here, in five years, notes Louis Pérusse. This year, it’s really impressive what I managed to do, for his part, Patrick Arsenault is delighted, all smiles.

Many effects to expect

If the rain is coming in heavy this summer, it in no way means que nos problèmes sont réglés, notes Germain Babin, agronomist and specialty union agent for the UPA de la Gaspésie-Les Îles. Mr. Babin notes that several effects will be felt concretely over the next few decades and that it is important to prepare for them. We’re going to have a little bit milder winters, so that means rain and snow events. We may get some later frosts. There are all sorts of things like that that are going to be cyclical, but sometimes the cycles are going to be closer together. Guy Gallant adds for his part that unseen insects could migrate north because of the weather. It can also be plants we’ve never seen before that will appear, he says. The Gaspesian Federation of the UPA also adheres to the Agriclimat approach, which includes all regions of Quebec. A regional working group will meet this fall to target the main problems experienced in Gaspésie and the adaptation measures that must be developed.