Farmers have the Earth in Their Hands

Paul Luu, with Marie-Christine Bidault

Foreword by Stéphane Le Foll, Ibrahim Assane Mayaki and Gabrielle Bastien


Also available in French and Spanish

A handbook giving the basics of agricultural science and history, as well as an overview of the major practices that make it positive for the climate.



This short guide gives a broad and open view of the subject


To understand the issues surrounding food and climate


Optimistic and action-oriented


How can we feed 10 billion people tomorrow? Can we avoid deforestation, the intensive use of fertilisers and synthetic products, which aggravate climate change and the erosion of biodiversity? Should the debate be limited to a strict opposition between organic and conventional agriculture ? Can a better distribution of resources and changes in diet solve everything?

There is no single answer to all these questions, but agriculture has a magical side. It is not only part of the problem, it is also part of the solution, thanks to the superpowers of the soil. By being alive, preserved and regenerated, the soil can feed us, ensure the diversity of life on Earth and store carbon to help offset our greenhouse gas emissions.

Through a few scientific benchmarks, a brief historical review and the exploration of virtuous practices that can contribute to the life of the soil, this book opens up a bright future. Farmers have the Earth in their hands, but it is up to all of us to support them.


The author

The International “4 by 1000” Initiative was launched by France in 2015 during COP 21. It calls for the dissemination and implementation of concrete actions for carbon storage in soils through agriculture and forestry.

Paul Luu is an agricultural engineer specializing in tropical agronomy, a graduate of AgroParis Tech, with a PhD from the University of Montpellier. He has worked in the field all over the world, in the international relations department of the French Ministry of Agriculture, and in the agricultural development of overseas departments and territories. He was Director of Agropolis International before joining the CGIAR. Since 2016, he has been the Executive Secretary of the “4 for 1000” Initiative.

Marie-Christine Bidault is an agricultural engineer, columnist and writer

Table of contents


Chapter One – Why do we need a change in agriculture?

Conventional agriculture, an assisted agriculture

Impacts of conventional agriculture

Agriculture and climate change

What about climate-smart agriculture?

Chapter Two – From living principles to their substitution


The major cycles

The essential roles of soil


Man and artificialisation

Chapter Three – Man and soil − A brief history of agriculture

The birth of agriculture

Early agrarian systems

First agricultural revolution of modern times

The second agricultural revolution in modern times

Can our history feed our future?

Chapter Four – What place for agriculture in the 21st century?

Soil, carbon and biodiversity

The main principles of agroecology

Chapter Five – Limiting disturbance: conservation agriculture

Chapter Six – The refusal of synthesis : organic and biodynamic agriculture

Chapter Seven – For the greening of grazing: dynamic rotational grazing (Holistic GrazingSystem)

Chapter Eight – Soil health at the centre of everything: regenerative agriculture

Chapter Nine – Mimicking natural forest ecosystems : agroforestry

Chapter Ten – No single agriculture, but a single role: one of male and female farmers

It’s up to you


Additional information

Weight 251 g
Dimensions 15,6 × 2 × 23,4 cm
ISBN French print


Number of pages French


ISBN English print


Number of pages English


ISBN Spanish print


Number of pages Spanish



English, French, Spanish


Digital, Paper

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