CLIMATE - SOIL - BALTIC SEA - BIODIVERSITY

Science

The Carbon Action platform brings together and conducts scientific research to enhance soil carbon sequestration and improve the climate impacts of agriculture. The platform hosts multiple research projects and a multi-disciplinary network of researchers.

The research work includes collaboration with farmers to develop regenerative agricultural practices that enhance carbon sequestration. An important objective is to develop a practical quantification and verification system of carbon sequestration and climate impacts by combining various measurements and modeling. Soil and microbial analyses, plant diversity measurements, atmospheric measurements, and modeling are used to study fluxes and sequestration of carbon at study sites. Nutrient retention and nutritional quality of the agricultural products are also studied. Economical and policy analyses are carried out to develop feasible, effective, and practical solutions of carbon farming.

The scientific research in Carbon Action is coordinated by the Finnish Meteorological Institute. Natural Resources Institute Finland LUKE, Finnish Environment Institute SYKE, University of Helsinki, University of Tampere, University of Zürich, and Ruralia Institute are partners in the research network. The network has wide international collaboration contacts. The network is open by nature and welcomes new partners.

Research is conducted and utilized at several levels

Hundred pilot Carbon Farms test practices and collect experiences of them including effects on soil health and yields. First samples from Carbon farms test and control plots have been analyzed and subsequent samples will be taken after 5 years to measure changes. Also, soil samples have been taken from 30 of these farms to a depth of one meter and the analysis of the samples is ongoing. More detailed field experiments studying the impacts on carbon fluxes and sequestration have been established on 20 of these farms. Farmers on these farms can monitor the effectiveness of carbon farming measures at the field level, and the results are published annually on a Zenodo server (keyword ‘Carbon Action’).

At nine long term study sites the changes in soil storage and nutrient emissions are both studied. The work has started in summer 2020.

At the intensive study sites, Qvidja, Viikki, Kilpiä and Ruukki, soil analysis, microbiological analysis, atmospheric measurements and modeling are used to study the fluxes and sequestration of carbon. In addition, long-term field experiment has been established in Viikki to study how biodiversity impacts the ability of fields to store carbon.

Carbon Action is developing a scientifically ambitious measurement and verification system. The verification system uses extensively collected data and can model and predict carbon sequestration even in areas where measurement data are scarce. A Field Observatory has been created to illustrate the methods developed in the project and the results obtained from them. The Observatory is an open-access online platform for visualizing measurement data from 20 pilot Carbon farms and intensive study sites, as well as the results of carbon calculations. On a societal level, scientific verification provides a basis for agricultural and climate policy instruments and a possible carbon credit market.

Carbon Action research questions

– Soil and plant processes: How to support carbon sequestration and the formation of stable carbon forms?

– Farming practices: How to improve farming practices that enhance soil carbon sequestration, soil health and productivity, biodiversity, nutrient retention, and nutritional quality of agricultural products?

– Verification: How to quantify and verify the carbon sequestration and other climate impacts?

– Economics and steering: How to promote science-based practical solutions of climate-smart agriculture with the means of economics and policies?

More information

Jari Liski
Research Professor, Head of Climate System Research Unit
Finnish Meteorological Institute
jari.liski@fmi.fi

Projects

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Peer-reviewed studies

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Field Observatory

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