Keywords: household wastewater sludge, spreading, farming, quality produce, regulation, local governance, environmental sustainability, France, agronomic analysis, coordination, agricultural policy, sustainable agriculture, sustainable development, arable land
Why are some French farmers sludge-takers? Some agronomic and socioeconomic explanations
The continued spreading of household wastewater sludge on farmlands is a major economic and environmental issue. This practice is being challenged in France, mainly through pressure from the agrifood business. Here, by means of an agronomic analysis performed on 60 farms, we show the relevance of the following variables: proportion of arable land, technical performance of the farm, and quality certification of farm produce. In parallel, we analyse the local governance of wastewater sludge spreading: the regulations brought into force in 1997 can support efficient local governance, making it possible to develop local coordination structures comprising administrations, farming representatives and local authorities. These structures are able to manage the constraints arising from agronomic and technical factors and quality requirements for farm produce. Local governance plays a key role in zones where downstream industries and farm cooperatives are opposed to sludge-spreading as an agricultural policy.