Case Study Profile


Tarn-et-Garonne, France
Atlantic Case Study

Case Study Leader: INRAE

Type of Climate: Warm temperate climate

Inhabitants per km²: 70

Main economic sectors: Agriculture

Main climatic challenges: Droughts, water scarcity

Socioeconomic context

The department of Tarn-et-Garonne is located in the South-West of France in the Occitanie region and covers an area of 3.717 km². The capital of the department is Montauban and the population is about 262.316 inhabitants in 2020 (INSEE, 2023). It has a great diversity of landscapes: plains, located between the rivers Tarn, Garonne and Aveyron, and hills in the North and in the South-West of the department, with a peak at 510 meters. The Tarn-et-Garonne borders the very dynamic department of Haute-Garonne where Toulouse is located, the 4th largest city in France in terms of population.

Although agriculture represents only 5% of employment in 2021, it covers about 62% of the area of the department, which is 230.921 ha in 2020 (AGRESTE, 2020) and is therefore very important for the case study.

3.684 farms have been recorded in Tarn-et-Garonne in 2020 and the average area per farm is 54 ha (Chambre d’Agriculture d’Occitanie, 2022). Cereals, fodder/grasslands, and oil crops are mainly cultivated and cover 33%, 31% and 20% of the agricultural areas, respectively. Fruit, vegetables and horticulture are also very important in this region and cover 7.8% of the total agricultural area (Chambre d’Agriculture d’Occitanie, 2022). The turnover in agriculture reached 585M€ in 2020: fruit, vegetables and horticulture represented 276M€, cereals and oil crops 102M€ and fodder 39M€ (Chambre d’Agriculture Occitanie, 2022).

Due to its natural position at the junction of the three rivers, the Tarn, the Garonne and the Aveyron, the department benefits from water resources. Numerous collective irrigation networks (47) and lakes (1900) have been created. Irrigation is essential for the growth of fruit and vegetables, seeds, cereals, as well as fodder. It concerns more than a quarter of the departmental utilised agricultural land and half of all farms (Chambre d’Agriculture Occitanie, 2022). 25,4% of the water consumed in 2020 in Tarn-et-Garonne was for irrigation (BNPE, 2020).

Main climatic challenges in Tarn-et-Garonne

Occitanie from 1960 to now:

On the scale of the Occitanie region, it has been observed an increase in annual temperatures and more importantly in the summer and spring. On the other hand, heat waves have increased in the region. The number of hot days (>25°C) has increased and the number of frost days has decreased.

The annual and seasonal trend of rainfall has been decreasing, but the decrease is not very marked and not significant.

The increase in temperature favors the increase of events such as droughts and water deficits in the soil. Most extreme rainfall events (>200mm daily rainfall accumulation) are increasing on the Mediterranean rim, which can cause flooding (Chambre régionale d’agriculture : Occitanie, Décembre 2021).

The consequences of climate change on agriculture so far observed are:

  • The advancement of phenological stages of the plants that modify the crop management
  • The degradation of the quality of the crops
  • The higher presence of pests
  • The thermal and hydric stress (Chambre régionale d’agriculture : Occitanie, Décembre 2021).

Climate projections for 2050 in Occitanie:

It is expected in the case study by 2050:

  • An increase in the average annual temperature of between +1.1°C and +1.8°, as well as an increase in the intensity of extreme precipitation around the Mediterranean region, which would lead to an increase in the frequency of climatic events such as droughts and floods.
  • An average annual drop in natural river flows of between -20% and -40%, as well as a downward trend in groundwater recharge, which will vary greatly depending on the sector and type of groundwater, ranging from +20% to -50%
  • An equally significant rise in surface water temperature, but also an increase in soil and plant evapotranspiration of between +10% and +30%, which will exacerbate soil drought (Regional Chamber of Agriculture: Occitanie, December 2021).

LAMS that can respond to the climatic challenges

The Occitanie and Tarn-et-Garonne Chambers of Agriculture are part of the project’s end users community. These public institutions are at the service of farmers and local areas, with the aim of:

  • Advise agricultural businesses and local authorities
  • Be a spokesperson for agriculture and an interlocutor for the public authorities
  • Support the development of projects
  • Support research and transfer innovative practices.

  • Water harvesting by collecting and storing rainwater in reservoirs
  • Composting of agricultural waste and residues and use as fertilizer
  • Cover crops to slow erosion, improve soil health
  • Agrovoltaic: Solar-panel farms that provide biodiversity-friendly soil cover, and sustainable bioenergy
  • Renewable energy (biogas) from agricultural waste and residues, to mitigate emissions

map of Tarn-et-Garonne

Image Source: GMV