The Boiron project, an indicator of a haphazard agricultural policy

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The Directorate of Agriculture of the Canton of Vaud presents the Boiron project as intended to “improve the biological and chemical quality of the waters of the Boiron river basin”. It began in 2005 and should end in 2022. It encourages farmers to improve their cultivation techniques to “prevent runoff and leaching of phytosanitary products and fertilizers”. It pays for the reduction or elimination of the most dangerous pesticides, measures against erosion or even the construction of secure washing areas for processors. The subsidies are in addition to the direct payments that the peasants already receive.

The project led to a slow improvement in the water in the stream. It is gratifying. The improvement was not linear. Our country suffers from pollution of a watercourse every 2 days. The FOEN had 3,807 between 1990 and 2018. No river is immune – everything is killed down to the tiny invertebrates. A part of these deaths is of agricultural origin – runoff of liquid manure, “manure juice” or poisoning with pesticides. Le Boiron was not exempted from it: 4 pollutions delayed the progress of the project (in 2008, in 2009 and twice in 2011). The Cantonal Directorate of the Environment qualifies 3 of the pollution as due to “compost juice”, the 4th to “silo juice”. “La Lettre du Boiron”, a virtual journal documenting the progress of the project, also testifies to numerous “small” pollution caused by pesticides.