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By stopping tillage to preserve the earth s natural organic matter, soil conservation agriculture restores its fertility. This sustainable production model, the seeds of which emerged in the late 1990s, seems promising in many respects. As well as maintaining life within the soil, it helps tackle the challenge of carbon storage, which is crucial in the fight against climate change. Still relatively new in France, soil conservation agriculture is attracting growing attention, in particular thanks to the work of APAD, a French association that promotes sustainable agriculture, and its international network. The association s new President, François Mandin, explains.

What are the guiding principles and benefits of soil conservation agriculture (SCA)? In what way is it different from other forms of sustainable agriculture (e.g. permaculture, organic farming)?

The model is based on three key pillars. The first is no tillage, the intervention being limited to the sowing lines. So not only do we avoid any ploughing, we also stop all tillage, even on a superficial level. The second pillar is permanent soil cover: our aim is to never leave the soil bare. After harvest we sow a plant cover, made up of several different plants, which grows over the soil until the next crop is sown. This plant cover is not harvested. It stops weeds growing and also nourishes the soil. Finally, the third pillar is the diversity of species grown: we extend rotation length and vary the species sown in the plant cover as much as possible. By combining production and protection, SCA meets the demands of both profitability and sustainability.

The more life on the ground, the more life in the ground.

1 - In French: Association pour la promotion d une agriculture durable.