Carbon Farming

Workshop on Dutch national soil congress

16 September 2019 - Published by Paula Nijman
Bionext organized a workshop during the first Nationale Bodemtop (Dutch national soil congress) about the potential business models behind sustainable soil management. Organic vegetable grower Alex van Hootegem explained how taking care of his soil influences his daily farming practices and Aart van den Bos (Verbos Business Consultancy) talked about his efforts to bring supply and demand of soil carbon sequestration together.

The Nationale Bodemtop was organized by the Dutch ministry of agriculture to bring all stakeholders related to agricultural soil management together to work towards the goal of 100% sustainably managed soils in 2030. The ministry acknowledges that sustainable soil practices have to come with a sound business model for the farmer. Heleen Klinkert from Bionext was asked host a workshop around this theme. Farmer Alex van Hootegem has an inspiring story of how he manages his farm. His conclusion: Sustainable soil management asks for a wider crop rotation with more cover crops. Van Hootegem experiences that it’s hard to measure the long-term benefits, while he makes extra short-term costs.

Aart van den Bos sees a lot of potential in companies that cannot mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions to zero and therefore want to compensate for the rest. He is already working with projects in Germany, where organic fairs compensate their emissions with local farmers that sequester carbon into their soils. Measuring carbon sequestration is difficult, but not impossible, according to Van den Bos.

The two talks lead to a fruitful discussion on the topic between the 30 participants of the workshop. The main conclusion was that delivering ecosystem services by farmers with benefits for the whole society are now too dependent on idealism by individual farmers. There is an urgent need for new business models to accommodate widespread sustainable soil management. The INTERREG Carbon Farming project is working on setting up such new business models.