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INRAE
24, chemin de Borde Rouge –Auzeville – CS52627
31326 Castanet Tolosan CEDEX - France

Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2018

Welcome in Caen, Normandy

In 2022, INRAE and Caen University will host the 29th EGF General Meeting in Caen, France. France previously hosted the EGF General Meeting in Lusignan in 2002. Caen is a medium sized city in the heart of Normandy. Normandy is famous for its permanent grassland, and the high quality cheese, butter and creams produced by the Normande cows, bovine meat and horses produced from that grassland. Some of the grassland area is part of a number of nature preservation projects. EGF 2022 will offer delegates the first hand opportunity to see and experience these different aspects of local agriculture.

Overview of EGF 2022

The central theme of the congress is the contributions of grasslands and the products derived from them to the development of circular, healthy and sustainable food systems. Understanding the herbivore production systems and their products means we must question the emphasis we place on grassland as a feed resource. Grazing can also contribute to animal welfare and to the positive image of ruminant farming systems. Grasslands are a reservoir and a means of preserving biodiversity, structuring landscapes, regulating biogeochemical cycles, helping to reduce the use of pesticides, contributing to the fight against global warming through their ability to store C and their albedo, contributing to the proper biological functioning of soils and limiting soil erosion. Conversely, for many farmers' perspective, grassland based systems are also seen as vulnerable systems, particularly in the face of climate change, the variability of production within and between years is also considered as a major issue and intensively managed grassland can lead to high N losses. Grasslands are, therefore, at the heart of many issues expressed in the Green Deal, Farm to Fork strategy and the Biodiversity strategy for European food production systems.

What acreage and types of grassland and grassland management are required to take advantage of and maximise the services while limiting negative impacts? The options will vary depending on the vision and objectives of stakeholders, as well as the local climatic and agronomic context, implying that achieving the objectives requires new compromises between the various services including market production purposes and the delivery of non-market environmental and social services. The analysis of the relationship between ecosystem services (trade-offs and synergies), their drivers encompassing economic, social, biological and biotic regulatory processes and the search for compromises will be the keystone of the congress.

There will be five sessions in EGF 2022

Session 1: Putting grasslands into perspective

This session will allow us to take a step back and see what is changing (or will change) in terms of the roles, services and societal perception of grassland based on scenarios and analysis of the role of public policies to ensure transitions and support grasslands.

Session 2: Bundles of services provided by grasslands

The objective of this session is to present the principles of trade-offs between the ecosystem services and negative impacts provided by grasslands depending on grassland management, type of market production and the diversity of the local situation across Europe.

Session 3: Using biodiversity to reduce vulnerability and increase resilience of grassland based systems

The objective of this session is to evaluate the expected benefits of biodiversity at plot and landscape level and system diversity on resilience of farming systems facing economic and climate changes/challenges, and to understand the underlying mechanisms of regulation.

Session 4: Looking for synergy between animal production, grasslands and crops

The session will consider opportunities and challenges of grassland and grassland management to ensure more sustainable farming systems at a European level considering the improvement of animal health and welfare, and the effect of grassland reintroduction in specialized cropping regions to more efficiently manage N and C cycles while reducing the use of pesticides

Session 5: Initiatives for the transfer and co-construction of innovations on and for grasslands

The objective of the session will be to take a tour of Europe’s grassland-focused initiatives aimed at promoting knowledge transfer between research and end-users, co-development of innovation in the field, and the identification of new knowledge needs.

A brief tour of agriculture in Normandy

Agriculture in Normandy is diverse. Grassland is of major importance in the region. Permanent and temporary grassland cover 40 and 11% of the agricultural area, respectively. Maize silage represents 15% and cereals 20% of the agricultural areas in the region, cereals being mainly produced in the highly intensified Plaine de Caen. Some grasslands are intensively managed, while others are extensively managed and engaged in nature preservation projects. Livestock agriculture is diverse and includes specialised dairy farming, specialized cattle farming, mixed farming systems, horse farming and also sheep farming. Normandy is the third most important French region for dairy production with 12% of the dairy herd and is renowned for its famous products such as Normande raw milk cheeses, creams and butters. Normandy is also the most famous French region for horse production, notably horses for sporting events and a well know agricultural region for cider production and alcohol (the famous Calvados). Overall the Normande agriculture is a good illustration of the diversity of challenges and expectations for the future of grassland in circular and sustainable food systems.