Innovations allow agriculture to last and hold on. Indeed, the sector faces social, economic, environmental and health challenges. Thus, improving working conditions for farmers, reducing land pollution and combating the crisis affecting the sector in recent years are real objectives.
Innovating for a sustainable reduction in agricultural pollution
The environment is a significant issue for agriculture. Indeed, in direct contact with soils, agriculture has a significant impact on the environment. For example, agriculture is responsible for 20% of greenhouse gas emissions and 70% of groundwater is contaminated with pesticides (1). However, the sector is totally dependent on the good health of the environment. To respect this, agriculture is constantly innovating, in order to make the most of renewable energy. Indeed, these energies are gaining ground and are now the 4th primary energy source, after nuclear, petroleum products and gas (1). Biomass, solar and wind energy are therefore energy-saving vectors. They represent a sustainable alternative, to reduce the use of fossil fuels.
Several organizations support innovation projects for the agriculture sector. This is particularly the case for Agri Sud-Ouest Innovation, which specializes in supporting innovative projects for the agri-food and agribusiness sectors. This competitiveness cluster enables players such as communities and companies to implement and label innovative and collaborative projects. Agri Southwest Innovation, for example, enabled Agronutrition to carry out the Neofertil project (3). This project aims to develop biofertilizers to increase agricultural yield, while limiting certain polluting inputs. Agri Sud-Ouest Innovation thus allows the company to have strategic support, with the connection with partners and to find means of public financing.
Raising awareness among younger generations for a sustainable future
Agricultural sectors are subject to employment problems. Indeed, by 2020, agriculture accounts for only 2% of jobs in France (4). Thus, to preserve employment in this sector, significant financial resources have been deployed. The appropriations for agricultural higher education will be increased by 3.8 million euros in 2021 (5). This will allow institutions to be accompanied to increase their capacity. This decision will help to promote jobs in the agricultural sectors, and thus raise awareness among younger generations as soon as they learn about environmental issues.
In this dynamic of awareness of students from general and agricultural education, the Prix des Lycéens Agri Sud-Ouest Innovation takes place every year. The aim of this competition is to highlight innovative projects driven by the region. In this 2020 edition, the MCUBE modular and mobile methanization project won the prize. Thus, the process of methanization makes it possible to transform organic matter into gas. This reduces organic waste, while avoiding the use of fossil fuels. The sale of the gas produced by methanisation can enable farmers to generate an additional income of about 10,000 euros per year (6). Thus, this project responds to environmental and social issues by creating a virtuous circle of energy.
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