Unlocking the potential of a soil-based economy
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Soil is earth’s secret solution to climate change, storing about 25 per cent of the world’s fossil fuel emissions each year. But intensive farming practises are having a detrimental effect on nature’s storage system. Carbon farming, the process of sequestering carbon in soil through sustainable farming methods, improves the quality of soil giving it a greater capacity to store more carbon.
The concept covers two key areas; the avoidance of releasing further emissions. For example, by reducing or replacing the use of fertilisers or by keeping soils covered year round preventing soil oxidation. And the removal of existing CO2 by promoting regenerative agricultural practises, such as reducing tillage, using cover crops, and rotating crops in fields.
Some scientists are concerned that the data needed to reinforce the benefits of carbon farming is not yet available.
Currently, the only way to measure soil sequestration is through soil sampling, which is expensive and labour intensive. We expect technologies to improve, and to emerge, and to be adopted by protocols, ultimately lowering costs and increasing accuracy.
For businesses committing to reduce their carbon footprint, supporting carbon farming and purchasing removed carbon via verified carbon credit system is one way to offset their own unavoidable emissions. A carbon credit, the most commonly recognised unit, equates to one tonne of removed or avoided CO2. For farmers, the perceived benefits of carbon farming need to outweigh any risks associated with transitioning from intensive to regenerative farming, such as a loss of income due to small yields in the short-term.
For carbon farming to accelerate, we need to have a stable market where the buyer knows the product and the farmer exactly what to do to earn that credit and to create revenues. A marketplace brings both parties together and regulates the process.
With a greater commitment to trust, transparency, and quality data, the demand for agricultural and other carbon offsetting credits is expected to rise as much as 100 times by 2050. This will not only provide a welcome stream of income for farmers, but over time, will improve the biodiversity, fertility, yield, and carbon composition of soil, leading to more CO2 being removed from the atmosphere and helping to reach global net zero goals.