Carbon sequestration

Sequestering atmospheric carbon into soil is an important option to mitigate climate change. Increasing the carbon content of soil is a win-win strategy that helps to restore degraded soils, enhance yields and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Soil stores a huge amount of carbon, globally two or three times as much as the atmosphere or vegetation. The soil organic matter (SOM) originates from decaying plant residues. SOM is a key component that affects soil physical, chemical, and biological properties and soil functions. However, the long-term conversion of forests and natural grasslands to croplands, combined with unsustainable farming practices, has resulted in losses of SOM worldwide. This trend can be reversed by using regenerative farming practices that enhance carbon input to soil, minimize soil disturbance and support soil microbial activity. In Finland, the carbon sequestration potential of agricultural mineral soil alone is estimated to be five million tons of carbon dioxide per year, which is nearly ten per cent of the total national greenhouse gas emissions and equal to emissions from passenger cars.
The practices studied in the Field Observatory Network (FiON) are part of the Carbon Action, where we investigate and advance carbon farming for obtaining multiple benefits. Using the data, we improve models and mechanisms to simulate and predict the amount, additionality and persistence of the sequestrated soil carbon. Especially, we aim to reduce following uncertainties:
  • Which practices of carbon farming work best under different soil and climate conditions, and how they affect soil quality and crop yield
  • How much carbon these efforts may sequester and which are the overall climate impacts
  • Whether these are cost-efficient ways to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions
  • How soil microbe ecosystems work and what practices are most effective at capturing and storing carbon dioxide