By Mario Catizzone 


The aim of the 4pour1000 initiative (4per1000 in English) is to increase carbon in the soil by  0.4%.  This could help to halt the annual increase in Co2 in the atmosphere. More broadly, the initiative is to share experiences involving land, research work, agricultural practices and policies aimed at increasing soil awareness, including soil’s potential for carbon accumulation.

earthworm by Natfot

To improve soil quality and evaluate the impact of changes in agricultural practices, it is necessary to have comparative data on the state of soil. These are so called “indicators” are the results of observation, analysis, studying and modelling. The indicators are important for farmers and other stakeholders as they help with selection of management tools to improve the organic and biological state of soil.

Within the 4 per 1000 Initiative framework, the French Ministry of Agriculture gathered a panel of experts to produce a short document entitled “Indicators on organic and biological state of soil”. The idea was to produce a “living” document which – beginning from a description of existing indicators – would need regular updates following contributions, critiques and suggestions from various users. The document must therefore be used, verified and amended, by staying in touch with the network which produced it and that refers to the Scientific and Technical Committee of the Initiative. The aim here is to obtain a short document which can be used by various stakeholders, including politicians who  often ask for comparative data on soil.