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Linking sustainable practices throughout Europe

[EXP] No-till agriculture helps saving inputs in agriculture and its improves soils and biodiversity

Continuous education in sustainable agriculture

Rural topic(s): Agroecology and agroforestry

Type: Innovative experience

Date of writing: August 27, 2012

Author(s) of this page: Patrick Chalmers


Caroline Hébert began a continuous education project in southwest France three years ago, bringing together local leaders in agricultural innovation to encourage the exchange of best practices and knowledge sharing. Her organisation runs workshops, debates and farm visits with a particular focus on no-till agriculture, providing a valuable resource for farmers who often work in isolation with little input from outside. The events provide opportunities for both organic and conventional farmers to swap ideas.


No-till agriculture helps saving inputs in agriculture and is improves soils and biodiversity.

Caroline’s organisation, GAIA Consulting, works with the VIVEA training organisation (www.vivea.fr/) and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. A particular focus of the work is on no-till agriculture, a practice that does away with the conventional farming practice of deep ploughing of soils with high horsepower machinery and leaving fields bare for extended periods. By retaining the beneficial qualities of undisturbed soil and its endemic plant and animal life, farmers save themselves significant capital outlays on equipment, diesel and farm chemicals. The technique is particularly relevant for the Gers department, where heavy clay soils, sloping fields, and decades of increasingly mechanised farming have eroded soils, polluted waterways and wiped out much of the local biodiversity.


A multi-cultural biochemist melds her professional and personal experiences by building sustainable rural development networks in southwest France. Hébert, who holds a doctorate in biochemistry, also works part-time for the local organic farmers’ association. She is a founding member of Transition Town Auch, part of a global network of initiatives working to build local resilience in the face of climate change and Peak Oil. Her goal is to join and to build networks across and between all these different activities, linking lessons from them all into her domestic life. For the latter, Hébert has direct personal experience of resilient systems, having renovated her house with particular attention to its food, water and energy supply and recycling loops.


Source of the information: author visit on August 20, 2012 that included extended conversation, questioning and video interviews in the context of the Sustainable Mystery Tour 2012.


Caroline Hébert is the founder of Gaia Consulting (gaia32.com/) and a member of Transition Town Auch (www.auch.transitionfrance.fr/?p=1)


Scale of intervention : Regional

Keywords: sustainable agriculture, Education, conservation and management of natural resources, Sustainable Mystery Tour 2012, improving soil quality, innovation, organic farming, no-till

Places: France

Actors: company, consultant/expert

Methods: training/capacity-building, networking, experience exchange

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