New Carbon Farming Project set to dig out data for farmers

The Farm Carbon Cutting Toolkit is looking for farmers to be involved in their new and exciting project, which aims to quantify which management practices work best to improve carbon storage in soil.

The project, which has been kindly funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, along with support from FCCT’s recent crowdfunding campaign, will allow for much needed data to be collected on soil carbon sequestration whilst at the same time enabling farmers to play a positive role in the development of effective climate change mitigation mechanisms.

Sequestering (or storing) carbon in farm soils, is a win-win not just for farmers, but for society and the planet. By building organic matter (and carbon) levels within soils, it is possible to improve water holding capacity, biological activity, nutrient cycling, soil structure and aggregate stability, all which have benefits to the farm business. But the wider benefits are also significant.

By building soil organic matter levels, farmers are able to store carbon within agricultural soils which is effective at can offsetting greenhouse gas emissions from other industries. Practices such as minimising tillage, avoiding compaction, adding organic matter to the soil and improving biological activity within the soil are all activities which will help build soil carbon, but what is missing is evidence that shows which practice works best where, and how much carbon can be stored by doing so.

There is lots of interest in building soil health and business resilience, along with the increasing use of minimal or zero tillage systems,” explains Jonathan Smith, FCCT Director. “Farmers are becoming more aware of the fundamental importance of soil health, and are looking at ways to improve it, and soil carbon is a key part of the puzzle. For farmers to make the changes, they need to understand what practices work, and be confident that these are practical, tried and tested and profitable. Our Carbon Farming project will provide some of the answers.”

The Carbon Farming project will work with 10 farms for the next three years, providing a baseline and then looking at the impact on soil carbon levels of different management practices. As well as looking at the impact on soil carbon, the project will also investigate the financial implications and practical considerations of different management practices.

As part of this project FCCT is working with other organisations who are interested in soil carbon to collate data from a wider network of farms, as well as with the leading researchers in soil carbon to make sure that the data that is being collected is scientifically robust and can be used to provide evidence for future policy.

FCCT Project Officer Becky Willson explains “By making sure that the data we will collect has scientific merit, and by working together we will be able to develop our understanding of soil carbon sequestration in practice and the role this could have for future climate policies and in building resilient farm businesses that are fit for the future.”

Farmers wishing to be involved: - Please contact Becky Willson on 01579 372376 or by email on becky.willson@farmcarbontoolkit.org.uk