There will be more and more talk about carbon agriculture. And AgroVar’s mission is closely linked to it – introducing know-how and implementing agricultural practices that help capture and store carbon from the soil atmosphere. Konstantin Haralampiev from our team was a lecturer at an Agri.BG webinar on the topic: “What is carbon farming and how can farmers apply it? Here are the main highlights of his presentation:
Carbon, low carbon and regenerative agriculture
The terms Carbon Agriculture, Low Carbon Agriculture and Regenerative Agriculture summarize the same practices, but their focus is different. Low-carbon agriculture focuses on practices that directly reduce the energy resource invested in the farm (fuels, chemical fertilizers, etc.). Carbon farming (very close to regenerative agriculture) focuses on sequestering and uptake of carbon into the soil, and in particular on practices that can affect soil quality and health, improve soil fertility and biodiversity, and produce quality.
Soil is an asset, not just a resource
The use of carbon sequestration practices increases the cost of land. The idea is to treat the soil not only as an inexhaustible resource but as an asset that can be improved and whose value can be increased. It is through the application of good practices for carbon farming that we increase the value of our assets.
Reducing the carbon footprint of farms
There are a number of activities that farmers can implement in their production to reduce their carbon emissions, depending on the type of farm.
In animal farming, for example, good manure management on the farm is crucial. This can be done by selecting regionally appropriate feeds and high-quality animal feed to reduce methane release through intestinal fermentation. Methane and nitrous oxide must be reduced very well when managing manure. Rotary grazing is a very important part of regenerative agriculture, a popular practice in Australia and some US states.
The US Department of Natural Resources has described 35 practices that cover agricultural production, according to the goals that a farm seeks to achieve. Constantine emphasizes some of them:
- Creating a permanent vegetative cover that protects the soil in cold, dry periods, and periods of excessive moisture.
- Landscaping with a mix of wildflowers (between 10 and 30 species) to attract beneficial insects or repel pests.
- Sowing of roof crops – the soil should be covered throughout the year and sow mixes of roof crops to retain and absorb carbon into the soil.
- Production technology is important – depending on whether it will be No-till, Strip-till, minimal tillage, ploughing…
- Wind protection belts are an opportunity to protect the fields from erosion processes and keep the snow cover in the spring for as long as possible.
Among the practices that protect the soil and sequester carbon is Diversification of crop rotations; Reduction of fallow and its replacement with overwintering roof crops; Avoid excessive application of fertilizers; Saving on fuel consumption in agricultural production.
Which farmers will be supported for carbon farming?
These will be farmers who are ready to adopt long-term regenerative practices and who can demonstrate a qualitative and quantitative change in reducing their carbon footprint and carbon sequestration. How exactly this will happen at the regional level remains to be seen, as the EU is expected to propose a legislative framework by the end of 2022.
The EU and the regulatory framework for carbon farming
The EU is already developing hybrid methodologies that cover both the impact of the practices of reducing the carbon footprint of the farms themselves, and at the same time the results of the same practices that apply to the sequestration and uptake of carbon into the soil. The aim is to determine the contribution of a given holding (quantitatively and qualitatively) to climate change.
Because they include regular physical soil surveys and remote monitoring of the process via European Space Agency satellites, for maximum accuracy.
It is envisaged that there will be land registries that are included in carbon farming programs and initiatives to avoid abuses (such as double counting of carbon credits).
In the long run, the benefits for farms can be very high. When the reduced costs of low-carbon agriculture are combined with the revenues from the realization of potential carbon credits from the respective farm, the increased quality of production and the increased asset of the land, good financial stability for the farms can be achieved.
AgroVar and carbon farming
Our team is developing a carbon program that will cover the Bulgarian market for carbon credits and we will be ready to offer it to our partners – farmers, after the release of the regulatory framework that will be worked. There is currently no established carbon program in Bulgaria.
The AgroVar team works closely with European agencies directly involved in the future implementation of carbon farming. We work with a number of farmers in different parts of the country to develop new technologies and accurate solutions for sustainable production.