Charles and Victor Schneider, Côte-d'Or, France

Farming is about a wide range of jobs. Moving towards simplification will put us out of business: you have to constantly think hard about how to diversify.

Charles and Victor Schneider

Their farm

  • A cooperative farming enterprise (GAEC) and an agroenergy limited company (5 FTE + 2 people working for the GAEC)
  • Cereal farming + Charolaise cattle breeding (suckler cows and fattening):
  1. 585 ha, comprising 60 ha of pasture and 525 ha of rapeseed, wheat, barley, maize crops
  2. 320 Charolaise bullocks and 50 suckler cows
  • A family farm going back 3 generations. In 1988, Charles took over the farm in the aim of diversifying production.
  • In 1989, he converted a natural meadow into a golf course.
  • In 2005, he developed a 6 MW straw combustion plant (6000 tonnes of straw and 4,000 tonnes of wood chips per year).
  • In 2015, Charles’ son Victor joined the farm.

Their innovations

  • Generation of renewable energy:
  1. Installation of solar panels on hangar roofs
  2. Development of production of biogas from anaerobic digestion: installation of anaerobic digester using dry process to make use of manure, the main input from the farm
  • Road works (snow clearing in the village and on industrial facilities).
  • Development of a rapeseed oil production activity. This leads to four products:
  1. Rapeseed oil for animal consumption (a customer pig farm)
  2. Oil for human consumption
  3. Oil for fuel (dual fuel anaerobic digestion engines)
  4. Rapeseed oil cake to feed bullocks bred on the farm
  • All produce stored at the farm with “zero insecticide” for past 10 years.

Their results

  • Diversification of productions and therefore of revenue sources = better resilience to price volatility.
  • Energy generation on site leading to higher revenue for GAEC whilst also making used of by-products and reducing dependence on external energy sources.
  • Increased added value from rapeseed production, with 4 different value channels including the self-consumption of by-products.
  • Production of ash, used as a soil amendment on the fields.
  • 13 tonnes/ha of digestate spread on the farm per year.

Find out more

His website

This profile was written by AgrOnov, the agroecology innovation hub.

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