Empowering Farmers to Fight Climate Change by Rewarding Sustainable Agricultural Practices.
Do you want to discover how a technological solution implemented in the Netherlands can support a compensation system for farmers and optimize carbon sequestration on their land?
Ploutos’ Sustainable Innovation Pilot 8 (SIP8) – Carbon farming and climate friendly soil management – aims at helping farmers to become service providers via the development of a new value chain (i.e. carbon credit).
Besides optimizing carbon sequestration, SIP8 intends to foster a relational approach (instead of a transactional one), to empower communication that builds trust, respect and cooperation. This way, farmers and companies are better connected with each other, valuing proximity and immediacy.
The Pilot highlights the importance of soil management and ensures that financial reward is provided to farmers in order to use all the available techniques to optimize carbon sequestration.
How does the pilot work?
The main challenge tackled by this pilot was the complexity of the verification and certification process. The initial situation entailed the manual collection of data on spreadsheets which is very time-consuming and requires extensive data processing.
First, specialised equipment was used to log data with accuracy and precision. Agricultural machinery data logging equipment capture activity time, location, and technical machine information such as fuel consumption, RPM, speed, and machine type.
Then, an IT infrastructure for collecting and storing data at farm/parcel level was created for data collection and analysis. A first IT setup with machine learning algorithms has been implemented and an API is to be setup with the Carbon Sequestration (CS) tool to automatically detect CS management practices. For the development of the CS tool the IT environment of the current Soil-Water tool from
ZLTO-NMI is used.
The final step was to develop a Carbon Monitoring Tool that will be capable of collecting and analysing a minimal set of farm data. The aim is to keep track of soil carbon at farm level and check if the farmer follows carbon standards. This tool can then enable farmers to participate in a carbon offset program compensating them for their compliance with carbon standards.
A Carbon Farming Agreement was concluded between a group of organic farmers and organic retailer Udea. Farmers receive an effort-based payment from Udea for 75€/tCO2.
In total, Udea has contracted 700 tonnes of CO2.
Developing a Carbon Monitoring tool
The BBWP tool (Soil-Water tool) of ZLTO and NMI is used as a basic IT structure to add on a carbon module. Existing parcel and regional environmental data are used together with farmers’ data to
run a soil-carbon model (RothC). The Roth-C model calculates, at the parcel and farm level, the potential carbon sequestration. A first prototype of the carbon module has been developed and tested and will be further improved during the final months of the project (M24-36).
Unlocking the power of 4 key insights
Through the implementation of the pilot, some key insights were gained.
The challenges and problems faced so far, help us gain a better understanding, create sustainable innovations that will rebalance the agri-food value chains and move towards a fair agricultural system.
Outcomes: Important outcomes include:
the creation of a group of farmers who collaborate with UDEA leading to the Carbon Agreement; and
the development of a carbon prototype tool.
Practical Recommendations: It is suggested that farmers should be engaged early on in the co-design process of the compensation system and that the IT solutions are matching their needs.
Moreover, it’s essential to communicate to the stakeholders that data integration constitutes an iterative process, therefore time and patience are required.
Problems: A problem that was reported was the complexity of the verification and certification process and the need for specialized expertise and/or training.
Outlook: As regards the future sustainability of SIP8, it’s important to engage a wide range of stakeholders (multi-actor strategy) and foster partnerships that share a common vision for the agri-food sector.