Interview with Jean-François Soussana

Vice-President for international policy, INRA
Published in the dossier of December 2019

Jean-François Soussana, Vice-President for international policy, INRA

How is INRA involved in the“4 per 1000” initiative?

As well as providing a scientific framework for the initiative, INRA launched a scientific committee with other national and international bodies in 2015, along with an initial research program that has led to several publications. We contribute to the work and publications of the 4 per 1000 initiative’s Scientific and Technical Committee and to thinking about its governance and goals. We also conducted a national study on the carbon storage potential of French soils in light of the 4 per 1000 goal, simulating the effect of farming and forestry practices on changes to carbon stock over 30 years. This new knowledge should shed light on public policies and show the importance of maintaining permanent grasslands, wetlands and forests where soils generally have high carbon stocks, as well as putting a stop to land take. This knowledge supplements expertise focused on increasing low carbon stocks, primarily in field crop areas. By implementing these two complementary goals all across France, it would be possible to achieve a rise in soil carbon stock levels in metropolitan France of nearly 4‰ per year.

Veolia and INRA enjoy a long-standing relationship. What is special about this partnership based on the 4 per 1000 initiative?

The partnership with Veolia has made it possible to develop the beginnings of an answer to the dynamic of organic waste products in soil, the future of micropollutants from organic waste products, and the biological and microbiological functioning of soils spread regularly. Every year in France, 330 million metric tons of organic waste matter is recycled in agriculture. Returning these products to the soil improves its fertility and could also contribute to increased carbon stocks, thereby helping achieve the goals of the 4 per 1000 initiative.

What makes Veolia and its subsidiary Sede a key partner for INRA?

It is necessary to document that returning these organic waste products to the soil has no negative impacts on the environment. A network of experimental sites has thus been developed by Veolia through its subsidiary Sede. Designed on a plot scale, these sites make it possible to measure — sometimes for over ten years — the long-term development of an agrosystem spread with organic waste products.


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