CLIMATE - SOIL - BALTIC SEA
We can no longer ignore the roles of soil and agricultural land use in causing climate change and, even more importantly, nor can we ignore their potential in combating climate change. The Carbon Action pilot project aims to find ways to speed up the sequestration of carbon from the atmosphere into agricultural soil, to verify the soil-carbon sequestration scientifically, and to make climate smart farming practices widespread in Finland.
Farmers have the power to change the story of climate change. This can happen if real agricultural practices go hand in hand with the latest research from the beginning. However, in order for carbon farming to become the new norm, it has to benefit the farmer, as well. Join our pilot farms to learn and to contribute to the spread of Carbon Action!
The scientific community looks for answers to questions, such as how carbon gets stored in the soil and how the process can be enhanced and documented. That requires detailed and scientific process-level studies (microbiology, isotope analysis, mathematical modelling, etc.). Smart science has to lead the way for climate-smart practice.
We have to decrease all climate emission, but we need to go even further: we also need to enhance carbon sequestration from the atmosphere through photosynthesis and then we need to store it back in the soil. A significant amount of greenhouse gasses originate from land use in agriculture and forestry. Recent studies indicate that the potential of restoring carbon back in the soil is significant. We need to develop practices that increase carbon storage in soil, find ways to verify them, and then introduced them at a large scale.
Organic matter in soil, such as decomposing plant and animal residues, stores more carbon than plants and the atmosphere combined. Our food production relies on the delicate topsoil, and we are just beginning to understand the role of countless microbes, fungi, and other organisms in our ecosystem. Yet, we have already lost half of the topsoil on the planet during the last 150 years. We are in a hurry to restore the soil in order to ensure food security -- by storing carbon back to where it belongs.
The Baltic Sea suffers from severe eutrophication and dead zones caused by excessive nutrient loads from land. The agricultural practices that restore soil health minimize the nutrient emissions from the fields to water bodies. Also, climate change amplifies eutrophication. As the Carbon Action pilot project takes place in the Baltic Sea catchment area, the Baltic Sea will be first to benefit!
The health of soil, plants, animals, people and ecosystems is one and indivisible. Soil organic carbon is the strong determinant of the soil health. Thus, the Finnish initiative on soil carbon sequestration has a highly needed holistic concept. We need to engage scientists, farmers, consumers and governments to the work. The potential of soil has not yet been discovered. I am happy to be part of the global network working together, and look forward to following up with the Finnish team.
The Ohio State University. Carbon Management and Sequestration Center, USA 2007 Nobel Peace Prize winner as part of IPCC, 2007
Transformational change in agriculture will require a combined approach based on the integration - in space and time - of science and farmer training. The restoration of healthy living soils, clean air, clean water and the production of nutrient dense food is essential to our quality of life. We need to acknowledge the roles of photosynthesis, liquid carbon, the soil microbiome and above and below-ground biological diversity in soil building and landscape function. The approach of the BSAG Foundation in bringing these diverse aspects together in the one project is ground-breaking.
Part of the two-year project is to ensure the future funding for the expansion of the research and implementation activities and the long-term studies needed. The holistic project has already evoked international interest.
At the Paris Climate Summit 2015, France presented a 4/1000 initiative: to increase the amount of soil carbon by 0.4 % annually. According to their calculations, it would be enough to compensate for the current increase in the atmospheric CO2 level. The initiative signed by Finland is ambitious but still abstract. Further research and practical experience is required to turn the initiative into action and to introduce the theme as a meaningful part of the EU’s common agricultural policy.
…the organic matter in soil, such as decomposing plant and animal residues, stores more carbon than plants and the atmosphere combined?
…the plants sequester carbon from the atmosphere and that microbes and fungi are needed to store it in the soil?
…we don’t yet know the true potential of storing carbon in the soil in agriculture? The current IPCC climate calculations on the potential of agriculture in sequestering carbon from the atmosphere are based on the presumption that agricultural practices continue as they have thus far.