In 2011 the National Museum of Natural Historythe Ministry of Agriculture and the Permanent Assembly of Chambers of Agriculture created the O.A.B, the Agricultural Biodiversity Observatory.



This participatory science project collecting data on biodiversity on French farmland aims to list and identify indicators of good land health. The farmers at the heart of this approach are themselves involved in collecting this data. The aim is to identify practices that are favourable to sustainable and environmentally friendly agriculture.

The Domaine des Etangs, in Charente Limousine, has been participating in these studies since 2019, thanks to the implementation of the four O.A.B. protocols on its farmland. It is the Estate's Keeper of the Field, Jean-François Magnan, who carries out the observations and transmits the data used to draw up a map of the quality of cultivated soils.

These four protocols are adapted to species directly related to agricultural works and their ecosystems.

The first protocol concerns the study of butterflies, a pollinating insect. Every fortnight, on three hundred metres of defined land, all species are identified and counted. This counting is carried out on the meadows, at the edge of the woods and on the moors to find various species.

The second protocol is implemented on fields of beans, peas or wheat. Wooden boards are placed on the ground and terrestrial invertebrates are counted. Insects that take refuge under these boards, slugs, snails, carabids, sowbugs, etc. are identified. The role of these invertebrates is to control crop pests.

The third protocol consists of counting the earthworms that transform organic matter into humus and thus fertilise the soil. The soil is dug up twenty to thirty centimetres to see how well the soil has been worked and how rich it is.

The fourth protocol, which begins in the spring, consists of counting pollinating insects, such as the solitary bee. In an insect hotel, twenty or so tubes are placed to receive the specimens and report on their presence, which has a positive impact on flora and crops.

All of these protocols make it possible to highlight the presence of actors involved in soil health and to understand the chain they form by analysing agricultural ecosystems.




Rigorously monitored over time, these indicators are revealing from five years onwards and allow the quality of a crop to be assessed. It is a valuable tool for the preservation of the environment, helping to adopt sustainable agricultural practices.

Discover the results of this participatory research, made possible by farmers, on the National Museum of Natural History.

Photo Credit: Solen Delrue

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