France - Nord-Pas de Calais

In 2011 around 12,000 farms cover an area of 844,000 ha. Farming represents 2% of the regional GDP and 2.3% of employment. Agricultural sector produces a turnover of 2.24 billion euros of which two third comes from cereals, milk, potatoes and vegetables. Nowadays, the trend is that many farm stop their activity, thus creating the opportunity for the remaining farms to increase their farm size. Today, the average farm size is 69 ha whereas it was 46 ha in 2000 and 28 ha in 1988. The systems of cereal crops and cattle breeding (simple or mixed system with crops or breeding) predominate.

Nord-Pas de Calais has about 3,900 dairy farms. This number does not cease to decrease whereas the number of farms with beef cattle grows. Also the number of dairy cows is increasing. Overall between 2007 and 2009 dairy livestock has reduced by 3.5%. However, the quantity of delivered milk stagnates around 1.22 billion litres per year. This is the result of an increased milk production per cow (6,900 L in 2010) and an increased delivery per dairy farm (315,000 L in 2010).

Environmental regulations and main constraints

The 4th Action program Nitrate Directive limits organic nitrogen input at 170 kg per ha. During the winter, all the areas have to be covered with winter cover crops to avoid nitrogen leaching and soil erosion.
A major part of the permanent grassland is protected by specific programs such as Natura 2000, nature park etc. Their goal is to limit ecological damages which occur with intensive grazing and mowing and competition with crops.
Main constraints are the competition for land with agricultural and non-agricultural actors, and between milk production and arable crops.

Water quality of the region

The nitrate content of the underground water has been increasing with 1 mg per litre for about ten years. Within the framework of “the nitrates directives”, the whole region is classified “vulnerable area”. Water pollution by pesticides is also wide spread. All sample points show traces of active matters.

Average region information

Dairy farm size 90
% grassland 28%
% forage crops (maize…) 19%
% others crops 53%
Mineral fertilizer per ha 166 kg N/ha
Dairy cows 46
Milk per cow 6,900 L
Milk quota 315,000 L
Main diet of the cows Maize silage
Time in pasture and period April to October

Pilot Farms

  • Nico Kass Berzelterhaff 7543 Rollingen/Mersch
  • Marco Koeune 18a rue Laach 9655 Harlange
  • Gilbert Leider 24 rue Château 9146 Erpeldange
  • Berny Schroeder 81 Maison 9772 Troine
  • Thiry Claude 19 rue du Stade 4995 Schouweiler
  • Wirtz Agri 4 rue d'Olingen 6169 Eschweiler