In the pursuit of climate neutrality by 2050, the European Union (EU) has taken significant strides in incentivizing and regulating carbon farming practices. At the forefront of this transformative journey is the C-FARMs project, a groundbreaking initiative that aims to revolutionize carbon farming practices in agriculture and land management.
The C-FARMs project stands as a beacon in the EU’s pursuit of climate neutrality, focusing on the critical intersection of agriculture, land management, and carbon sequestration. By addressing challenges specific to the agricultural sector and involving stakeholders from the inception, C-FARMs paves the way for effective and sustainable carbon farming practices.
As the project reached its grand finale in Rome on July 18, it not only celebrated its achievements but also set the stage for a new era in sustainable carbon farming.
Understanding carbon farming and C-FARMs
Carbon farming involves activities that enhance carbon sequestration in living biomass, organic matter, and soils compared to conventional practices. The C-FARMs project, short for Carbon Farming Certification System, emerged in response to the EU’s climate policies and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
It seeks to establish a robust regulatory framework for certifying carbon removal or non-emission, facilitating targeted and result-based payments to farmers.
Piloting carbon farming in Lombardy
Lombardy, a key player in Italian agriculture, serves as the pilot area for the C-FARMs project. With its diverse farming practices, including intensive agriculture and concentrated livestock activities, Lombardy provides a critical testing ground.
The project recognizes the potential for substantial soil organic carbon (SOC) sequestration in the region, particularly through conservation agriculture and poplar tree plantations. Italy’s poplar plantations, crucial for the wood industry, have become a focal point for C-FARMs.
These plantations, primarily located in the plains of northern Italy, play a vital role in meeting national wood demand. The project assesses their carbon sequestration capacity, exploring sustainable management practices and the impact of environmentally sustainable poplar clones.
C-FARMs Project objectives and actions
The C-FARMs project is structured around seven key actions:
- High-resolution Geospatial Information System (GIS-FARMs): Identifying mitigation potential and creating a demonstrative GIS system for the agricultural sector in Lombardy.
- Systematizing knowledge and data: Gathering statistical, economical, and spatial data to support decision-making for carbon farming practices.
- Carbon farming practices identification: Quantifying sustainable management options for crop and livestock systems, involving direct input from farmers through questionnaires.
- Tree plantation and harvested wood products: Analyzing the carbon sequestration potential of poplar plantations and their contribution to mitigating climate change.
- Regulatory framework and certification system: Developing a certification scheme for carbon farming practices after public consultation, aligning with EU regulations.
- IT tools evaluation and prototype development: Assessing existing IT tools for farm management, developing a web application, and creating a repository for user access.
- Demonstration at farm and regional level: Applying results in the field, analysing practices, assessing potential, and conducting an economic impact analysis.
Results and future scenarios
The C-FARMs project has achieved significant milestones, including the creation of GIS-FARMs, a carbon farming simulator, and a regulatory framework for certification. The evaluation of IT tools and the demonstration at the farm and regional levels provide valuable insights into the practical application of carbon farming practices.
As the C-FARMs project concluded last July, its methodology and insights hold the promise of transforming agriculture and land management practices across Europe and beyond. The project’s results, designed to be applicable to any region, will be tailored based on specific agricultural contexts. The replication of the scheme in other regions and countries will strengthen the methodological approach, considering local data and institutional arrangements.
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