Nearly all of the 110 carbon farmers have now completed the first part of the carbon farming training. The second class of carbon farmers gathered in Siikaniemi course centre in Lahti for a two-day session in early November. The day-time agenda was packed with information. In addition to learning about measures that facilitate carbon sequestration, the farmers got an understanding of soil microbiology, healthy and fertile soils, grazing, and climate change. The participants also got to enjoy good food, good conversation and an evening of relaxed networking.
There was excitement in the air. Many farmers said they were happy to see that they were part of a large group of farmers with similar ambitions. In addition to increasing the profitability of their farms, many farmers participate in the Carbon Action pilot project because they want to contribute to the mitigation of climate change. Farmers have often been blamed causing environmental degradation, but through carbon farming farmers can not only produce food in a sustainable way but also have a positive effect on the environment. Carbon farming benefits the soil, the climate and the Baltic Sea.7
Research professor Jari Liski, from the Finnish Meteorological Institute gave the first talk of the two-day seminar. Professor Liski spoke about the risks that climate change pose for the planet and life on it. It’s important to understand the mechanisms behind carbon sequestration in the soil so that we can, through the right farming techniques, capture as much carbon as possible from the atmosphere and store it in arable land. According to Tuomas Mattila, a researcher and farmer who also taught at the event, the most important considerations regarding carbon sequestration are maximizing the photosynthesis, nurturing microbial activity in the soil and getting the sequestered carbon to stay in the soil.
The one hundred farms participating in the Carbon Action pilot produce invaluable information for the researchers about farming practices and the measures that promote carbon sequestration. The carbon farmers also have to take a leap into the unknown, as they might be the first ones to carry out certain measures on their fields.
The Carbon Action pilot continues its work, together with a large group of excited farmers. In the spring of 2019 the concrete work will begin as the farmers start carrying out the measures determined by their selected carbon path. The different carbon paths include different measures which are aimed at increasing the carbon storing capacities of the soil.
The Carbon Action pilot is a project in which BSAG, the Finnish Meteorological Institute and Sitra co-operate. BSAG is responsible for the big picture and the co-operation with and the training of the farmers, the Meteorological Institute is responsible for the research of carbon sequestration and coordinating the research work with other actors, while Sitra provides the funding for the first two years.