Agriculture can and must be part of the solution to climate change. The French Minister of Agriculture, Stéphane Le Foll, and Ambassador for Paris Climate 2015, Laurence Tubiana, emphasized this imperative at a conference that took place in Paris on April 27, 2015, during which they introduced the carbon sequestration program for agriculture, named “4 per 1000.”



This program aims to adapt agricultural practices with the goal of storing carbon more efficiently in the soil. According to Jean-François Soussana, Scientific Director for Environment of the French National Institute for Agronomical Research (INRA), an annual increase of “4 per thousand” (0.4%) each year of organic matter in soil would be enough to compensate for the global emissions of greenhouse gases. Indeed, soil is a veritable reservoir for carbon; it contains 2.6 times more carbon than the atmosphere thanks to plants that siphon carbon from the air and deposit it into the soil once dead. But through most agricultural practices, the soil lets its stock of carbon escape into the air. On average, cultivated soils around the world have lost 50 to 70% of their initial carbon stock, according to Jean-François Soussana. But certain agricultural practices can reverse this trend, fostering carbon-rich soils that will in turn be better suited for production. According to Stephan Le Foll, this program will “reconcile food security and climate change.”

Stéphane Le Foll and Laurence Tubiana presented a work schedule for the researchers participating in this international program, which details the actions to be taken leading up to the climate conference in December 2015 in Paris.



The following agricultural practices are recommended by the French National Institute for Agronomical Research (INRA) for fighting global warming:

  • Reducing the prevalence of chemical fertilizers by best management practices as well as by more accurately predicting crop yields. This would reduce the emissions of nitrogen dioxide in particular.
  • Using legumes during crop rotations. Legumes are able to harness nitrogen from the air and restitute it in the soil. They act like a natural fertilizer for the subsequent crop in the rotation, which will then require fewer chemical fertilizers.
  • Developing no-till cultural practices. If not tilled, the soil retains its structure and stores carbon more efficiently. Furthermore, this practice saves fuel.
  • Planting more cover crops. It is preferable to plant crops instead of leaving the soil bare. This can help limit the emissions of nitrogen dioxide.
  • Developing Agri-forestry: planting trees is a good way to utilize carbon from the air, and offers many beneficial effects to the crops.
  • Improving the management of grasslands by prolonging the pasture season, reducing fertilization, among other strategies.
  • Reducing the emissions of methane and nitrogen by changing the diet of cattle.
  • Retaining the methane through methane digesters.
  • Reducing the use of fossil fuels on the farm by improving insulation and warming management in livestock buildings and greenhouses, for instance.