The MULTA project on the Carbon Action platform is developing a measurement and verification system to determine the amount of carbon stored in the soil. Carbon sequestration, additionality, persistence, and carbon leakage should be determined scientifically. The verification of changes in the carbon stocks makes it possible for farmers to monitor how different cultivation methods affect the soil. Companies in the food supply chain are interested in the carbon footprint of production. On a social level, scientific verification provides a basis for agricultural and climate policy instruments and carbon credit markets. The Finnish Meteorological Institute conducts international top-level climate research and oversees the development of the verification system.

The MULTA project aims to create a valid method for verifying soil carbon sequestration, not just to analyse concrete measurement results. The verification system uses extensively collected data and can model and predict carbon sequestration even in areas where measurement data are scarce. The aim is to create a new kind of platform; A “network infrastructure”, where multiple carbon sequestration modeling techniques can be combined and displayed using a real-time counter. The results produced this way can be evaluated using several models, and there is no need to individually tailor the input material to suit all models. 

Soil carbon sequestration has previously been studied using separate simulations and measurements. The MULTA project is creating a complete verification method that makes efficient use of measurement data, modeling, and information systems. The verification system is also made so that it works reliably in varied conditions in different countries. This way, the verification of carbon sequestration can initially be piloted in Finland, and later the practices can be scaled up into actions elsewhere. The verification system can thus promote Finland’s position as a pioneer in carbon sequestration.

The Field Observatory brings attention to soil carbon

The Field Observatory has been created in co-operation with Häme University of Applied Sciences (HAMK) to illustrate the methods developed in the project and the results obtained from them. The Field Observatory will soon be an open-access online platform for visualizing measurement data from research fields and carbon farming fields, as well as the results of carbon calculations. In addition to gas exchange measurements, real-time data is collected on the platform using satellite data, field sensors, weather forecasts, and soil analysis data. Very soon, researchers, farmers, and citizens will be able to monitor the impact of regenerative farming practices on soil carbon sequestration through the Field Observatory.

The project involves 100 Carbon Action carbon farms that test the cultivation practices that are under development and provide research material. The farmers involved in the project will benefit directly and indirectly from the verification system: the results of the study will soon be available to be viewed in real-time through the Field Observatory. In the future, anyone can monitor carbon sequestration and the effects of cultivation measures in practice. Carbon farming as a concept has spread rapidly. At farmers’ requests, the Carbon Action Klubi (Carbon Action Club) was established to provide a larger platform for information exchange. New farms are welcome to join. Members of the Carbon Action business platform will benefit from the development of calculation and modeling. In the future, the results of the verification system will cover all carbon flows in the carbon footprint of food. Also, uncertainty factors can be calculated accurately.

It has been surprising to see how quickly the positive effects of carbon farming are visible. Carbon sequestration as a concept is of interest to the scientific community and society on a larger scale, including various international networks. The Baltic Sea Action Group (BSAG) coordinates the communication of the project results and involves them in social decision-making. Thanks to outstanding communication work farmers, citizens, and an increasing number of policymakers are very well informed about the objectives of the project and the results already achieved,

As the project progresses, the benefits, potential risks, and long-term outcomes of carbon sequestration can soon be identified. Finally, building on the results of the project, a framework can also be created for how farmers can be reimbursed for carbon sinks in the form of credits and compensation.

Layla Höckerstedt, Research Coordinator, Finnish Meteorological Institute

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