The Crau is the former junction of the Durance river and the Rhône river and is now the excretion area from the two rivers. It’s made of pebbles on a thick layer that have consolidated with the streaming to form a limestone which is waterproof and resistant.
Two parts can be distinguished in the Crau :
The dry Crau, in the South, which is arid and has been grazed since the Roman Time.
the wet Crau, in the North, stretching over the cities of Saint-Martin-de-Crau, Eyguières, Istres, Mouriès and Arles. This area has been irrigated for two centuries and supplies the famous hay from Crau (with unequalled nutritive and gustatory qualities) and is now a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO). This is the only animal food to bear such a protection. The hay bales are circled with a red and white strap that shows the label. The plain from the Crau has some groundwater supplied with irrigation water.
The first irrigation channel was built in the Crau in the 15th century thanks to Adam from Craponne. The water from the Durance river was led to the Crau to Salon de Provence and then to Saint-Martin-de-Crau and finally to Arles. Then, some secondary channels were added to widen the irrigated surface of the Crau. The present irrigation practice is mainly a gravity-fed network.
The creation of a meadow is made from some alfalfa or a mix of grass and leguminous plants on a field that has been previously flattened and where stones have been removed. The irrigation water causes the spontaneous and natural development of other plants, to reach the balance of natural meadows within a few years and permanently.
The meadows, together with the hay, will feed our mares.