Soil got new defenders

7.11.2022

A group of top political decision-makers as well as business executives and media learned about the importance of soil in solving environmental problems at Qvidja’s experimental farm on August 24, 2022. 

The course day brought the latest research information on the accumulation of soil carbon stock and its measurement. Regenerative farming was also introduced in practice in the field. 

Qvidja’s host Ilkka Herlin introduced us to the topic through history. He talked about the dialogue between agriculture and population growth, as well as the shared history of nitrogen fertilizers and the arms industry. 

Saara Kankaanrinta, Qvidja’s hostess and chairperson of the Carbon Action steering group, and Laura Höijer, Managing Director of the Baltic Sea Action Group (BSAG), explained us how climate, biodiversity, the state of the Baltic Sea and soil health are linked together. In the Carbon Action work, regenerative farming is developed and researched, which affects all of these. Activities are carried out at a hundred pilot farms and there are more than a dozen research projects and pioneering companies involved. 

The Chief Scientist of the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI), Jari Liski, brought out the potential of carbon sequestration of agricultural soil in mitigating climate change. 

“We must return more carbon from the atmosphere to the soil, and that is possible along with food production,” Liski said. “During four years, carbon has been sequestered to the soil of Qvidja’s grass field by about four tons per hectare. That’s roughly the same amount of carbon as 20 cubic meters of wood.” 

Under the leadership of Liski, scientifically ambitious soil carbon measurement and verification system is being developed as part of the stn MULTA project and Carbon Action work. 

Hands to the soil

The most memorable discussions took place at Qvidja’s test field, where regenerative farmer and Carbon Action advisor Juuso Joona took the course participants closer to the everyday life of a farmer. The relationship between soil health and water protection was demonstrated with ‘water jar test’. The test had soil that was in a good condition, healthy, and soil that was in a bad condition. The water passing through the healthy soil was clearly less cloudy.  

Jari Liski and researcher Laura Heimsch showed us the FMI’s field measuring equipment. We were able to monitor the exchange of greenhouse gases between the soil and the air in real-time.  

The course participants considered, among other things, what kind of yields can be achieved with regenerative farming or how soil carbon sequestration could be taken into account in company’s supply chain. Not every question has an answer yet, but information is increasing at a fast pace and enough is known to be able to act. 

“I’m already looking at the fields, gardens and my own backyard with new eyes,” stated one of the participants, and several stated that they will take a new understanding of the importance of soil with them to their own work. 

The session was financially enabled by the projects stn MULTA (Strategic Research Council at the Academy of Finland) and LIFE CarbonFarmingScheme (European Union’s LIFE programme) as well as Jenny and Antti Wihuri foundation. 

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