One of the precious gold to plant is carbon. The plants are grown with the help of water and sunlight. And carbon is one of the necessary nutritious elements for the plant to grow.
With the evolution of technology in the agricultural field, carbon become one of the important needed resources. The proper farming of carbon from the atmosphere can alter the agricultural landscape altogether.
Carbon Farming is an approach where the captured carbon is optimized by various practices to improve the rate at which CO2 is extracted from the atmosphere. And later it is stored in the plant material and/or soil organic matter.
Carbon farming is synonymous with “regenerative agriculture.”
The European Commission defines carbon farming as “a green business model that rewards land managers for taking up improved land management practices, resulting in the increase of carbon sequestration in living biomass, dead organic matter and soils by enhancing carbon capture and/or reducing the release of carbon into the atmosphere, in respect of ecological principles favorable to biodiversity and the natural capital overall.”
The process identifies the importance of solar energy to drive the farm ecosystem dynamics. It also emphasised on carbon is the main carrier of energy within the farm system.
In the news article argriculture.com, the benefits of the carbon have been mentioned,
“If we were able to increase the carbon in the soils of the world by sequestering 3.6 gigaton of carbon per year [1 gigaton equals 1 billion tons], we could offset or negate the additional effects of climate change that will be caused by future increases in carbon dioxide released by the fossil fuel use of a growing world population,” says Rattan Lal, directs the Carbon Management and Sequestration Center at Ohio State University.
He clearly states that “The U.S. accounts for about 18% to 20% of that amount. In the U.S., the per-capita rate of release of carbon into the atmosphere is going down but rising globally. Global warming has resulted from the increasing levels of carbon in the atmosphere. This is causing an increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as floods, droughts, and hurricanes.”
“Nonetheless, soil carbon sequestration buys us time over the next 20 to 50 years until the low-carbon or no-carbon alternatives to fossil fuel take effect.”
The carbon farming practices are known as sequestering carbon and/or reducing GHG emissions. The best-known practice in preserving permanent grasslands. Converting cropland to fallow or permanent pastures is a promising soil carbon storage technique. They can store a high amount of carbon than tilled fields.
The restoring and rewetting of peatlands ensure the existing carbon stock remains intact. Another focus also has been on increasing organic matter.
“Organic matter is about 50% carbon,” says Lal. “If organic matter is increasing over time – such as by no-till farming with a cover crop – it is possible to increase soil carbon stock at a rate of 500 to 2,000 pounds per acre per year. By the use of petroleum-based production inputs – such as fertilizers, herbicides, and farm operations – some carbon is also being used in order to sequester carbon. So there’s a gross carbon-accrual rate and a net rate.”
The major environmental benefits are:-
- Greenhouse gas emissions are lower in association with vegetation clearance.
- Carbon storing in vegetation.
- Biodiversity is increased.
- Air quality is increased.
- The risk of soil erosion is mitigated.
- Soil fertility is increased.
- Soil salinity is reduced and soil health is improved.
- Buffering against draught.
- Native vegetation is improved habitat and animal health.
“Carbon farming is a necessary addition to our efforts to reach climate neutrality. It allows farmers, foresters, and other land managers to become true custodians of our natural environment and shepherds of our climate,” said Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice President of the European Commission in December 2021.
What role Germans are playing?
The new German agriculture minister, Cem Özdemir of the Green Party, has called “carbon farming a “huge opportunity” in his 2021 parliament maiden speech. He will promote humus build-up. He has said that Germany will support the agricultural agenda of the French EU council presidency.”
A ministry spokesperson in Nov 2021 told Euractiv that “promoting carbon sequestration in agriculture and forestry is of ‘high priority and a key instrument for reaching the sector’s climate targets.”
In March 2022, Silvia Bender, Green party, state secretary, agriculture ministry shares her opinion,
“In my opinion, we cannot provide so much more sink capacity that tradable certificates can be generated at all. We certainly don’t want the industry to put its climate efforts on the back burner because it can buy cheap soil allowances and get a free ride. For the climate, that would be an unacceptable zero-sum game.”
The German government announced 75 million euros by 2023 for humus restoration on arable land. The agriculture ministry recently announced 23 million euros of funding for a project increasing humus build-up in agricultural soils.
In my opinion, the farming industry has also been sidelined by the IT or Automotive sectors. The recent development and involvement of technology to grow agriculture on a different scale are motivating people to venture into long-term sustainable business practice.
The investments got their values. And with promising funds from developed nations shows the agri-business to expand in various ways. Good news for the farmers as well as who wants to be Farmers!