Winter vegetables are short of water. In the Drôme, some farmers are already forced to irrigate their crops and are finding ways to conserve moisture.
Usually, Gilles Boerekamp, a market gardener at Pré Atout in Montélimar (Drôme), does this in April, but he is already turning on the water to irrigate the winter crops. At the end of winter, the clay soil of his land is abnormally cracked by the lack of water. So, to avoid losing his production of celery, broccoli and lettuce, the organic market gardener has some tricks up his sleeve.
Keeping the soil moist
“We try to put mulch between the rows to keep the soil moist. We also try to install canvas covers to keep the moisture under the crops,” explains Gilles Boerekamp. If there is not enough rain by April, he will have to water another of his fields to plant lettuce, onions and squash. This cost will be reflected in the price of his produce. Faced with these recurring droughts, the Drôme Chamber of Agriculture is piloting several experimental projects, notably to save water. For example, in an orchard in Étoile-sur-Rhône, a device is used to provide the right amount of water at the right time.