8 steps to increase soil Carbon

As the Katowice Climate Change Conference started, scientists from 4 per 1000 called for stronger action on building soil carbon. Sequestering soil carbon mitigates climate change and builds food security. The scientists recommend eight steps:

1. Stop carbon loss – Protect peatlands through enforcement of regulations against burning and drainage.

2. Promote carbon uptake – Identify and promote best practices for storing carbon in ways suitable to local conditions, including through incorporating crop residues, cover crops, agroforestry, contour farming, terracing, nitrogen-fixing plants, and irrigation.

3. Monitor, report and verify impacts – Track and evaluate interventions with science-based harmonized protocols and standards.

4. Deploy technology – Use high-tech opportunities for faster, cheaper and more accurate monitoring of soil carbon changes.

5. Test strategies –  Determine what works in local conditions by using models and a network of field sites.

6. Involve communities – Employ citizen science to collect data and create an open online platform for sharing.

7. Coordinate policies – Integrate soil carbon with national climate commitments to the Paris Agreement and other policies on soil and climate.

8. Provide support – Ensure technical assistance, incentives to farmers, monitoring systems, and carbon taxes to promote widespread implementation.

from CGIAR

Technology and community

Notice that these steps require both technological and community solutions. In New Zealand we tend to focus too much on technological solutions (such as methane vaccines for example). So we tend to relegate action to the “experts”. These eight steps focus more on community and policy, and achieving the outcome that we are looking for requires requires community cohesion and a unified vision.

We also need to look to the farmers and growers who are already surpassing the 4 per 1000 target in New Zealand, and we have several in Tai Tokerau (the Northland Peninsula). 

I am delighted to see the 4 per 1000 scientists call for citizen science (number six above). I wrote on this theme in Soil Carbon Sequestration: A Contested Space in Science. Most farms in New Zealand have diverse soil conditions and those who farm their own land are in the best place to understand their diverse soil conditions.

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