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Conservation Agriculture will be a key factor in the 2020 CAP reform because of its clear benefits of sustainability and climate change mitigation

Barruelo del Valle (Valladolid), 22nd September 2016. More than 1,800 farmers attended the International Field Day on Conservation Agriculture.

The International Field Day on Conservation Agriculture held in Barruelo del Valle (Valladolid), with the participation of more than 1,800 farmers, has been a success not only because of the large number of participants and the impact on the media, but also because of the effective advocacy for the Spanish Ministry OF Agriculture, Food and Environment and other key administrations. Policy makers openly supported conservation agriculture as the basis for the new reform of the CAP 2020.

Fernando Miranda Sotillos, General Director of Production and Agricultural Markets of Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment, did not hesitate to say that "we must move towards an agriculture that emits less CO2 and also contributes to the absorption of CO2, which is a double benefit if we want to reach commitments made by Spain and the EU in Paris in the framework of the COP 21 in December 2015, where the main topic was the fight against climate change. Therefore, the Conservation Agriculture is the main factor in fulfilling these two functions, to keep CO2 in soil and absorb more CO2 from the atmosphere by not plowing and leaving the soil covered with previous crop.

But the General Director not only supported the Conservation Agriculture as a main factor in fighting against climate change, but also in pursuit of a truly sustainable agriculture: "Conservation Agriculture is also important to prevent erosion and maintain soil fertility, therefore we talk about sustainable techniques that allow farmers to produce the same, or even more, with less costs. For that reason, these techniques fit perfectly into the CAP and should be the basis of the new reform proposed in 2020, which should respond to these environmental challenges”.

These statements of Fernando Miranda perfectly summarize the key messages that the Spanish Association for Conservation Agriculture. Living Soils (AEACSV) has been trying to convey to farmers and administrations for more than 20 years, and that is the reason we have organized all field days held in recent years, as AEACSV president Jesus Gil A. Ribes noted "we want to show farming practices that are really sustainable in the long term through truly examples of farms that have been applying Conservation Agriculture practices for a long time, reaching not only the environmental objectives of sustainability, but also the social and economic ones.

This has been the case of the farm "El Pozo" in Barruelo del Valle (Valladolid), where attendees: farmers, the media (RTVE, RTVCYL, Onda Cero, El Norte de Castilla, press, etc.) and those responsible for the various administrations, have seen a model of profitable exploitation, and discovered, through the five thematic stations, all the benefits of the implementation of Conservation Agriculture.

Along these thematic stations some best management practices were demonstrated to reduce erosion and runoff, where attendees were able to see the plots, in which the rainfall simulators, led to different rates of erosion and runoff, depending on the percentage of cover crops that was on the surface (less cover crops meant more erosion and water and soil loss).

In another station, attendees could hear experiences of farmers who were practicing no-till techniques, in which farmers responsible for the farm "El Pozo" and other farmers from different areas gave management guidelines about no-till, talking about issues such as weed control, machinery to be used and their cost savings over several campaigns.

A novelty compared to previous editions has been the thematic station on soil compaction, where the strategies to reduce the effects of agricultural operations on the soil were revealed. In this thematic station was also discussed fuel economy and the use of high flotation tires which are the key factors in reducing costs and compaction.

There has also been a special thematic station where attendees could learn how to perform sustainable use of agrochemicals, calibrate application equipment and pay attention to all the necessary inspections and regulations established by the Directive on Sustainable Use of Pesticides.

Finally, and as in the last edition, there was a thematic station in which the challenge of agricultural sustainability was analyzed, focused on innovations that the private sector offers to farmers.

The International Field Day, which included the projects on sustainability in agriculture LIFE+ Climagri, INSPIA and TOPPS and which has received recognition from the COP22 on climate change, had 19 corporate sponsors, including the most prominent companies of the agricultural sector in machinery and inputs, which could contact a large number of farmers in both the assembled stands on the field to showcase their products, and through field demonstrations that were organized at the end of the day to test seeding equipment. In addition, all attendees received a journal Proceedings of the Conference, a summary of the content of all presentations organized in the thematic stations and the technical characteristics of all the presented products.