Soil carbon levels are as low as 21.9t/ha and as high as 313.9t/ha on farms sampled as part of the Irish Farmers Journal Footprint Farmers Programme.

The average carbon storage on the farms sampled so far is 74.2t/ha.

The sampling was carried out to get baseline levels for soil carbon and to see if the levels in the soil increase over time, therefore offsetting some farm emissions by taking carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in the soil.

So far, the samples taken were mainly from grassland soils. The lowest figure of 21.9t/ha is from soil, which was in tillage and was converted to grassland, giving it potential to increase.

The high soil carbon levels came from a heavy soil in grassland production.

Soil samples were taken to 30cm and the sample area was no more than 4ha. Much of the tillage land in the programme is yet to be sampled.

Samples will need to be taken again to see how much carbon has been stored in the soil since the previous sample was taken – this will then show how much carbon has been offset by the farm by storing it in the soil in the intervening period.

Almost 900ha will be sampled under the programme and the cost of sampling and testing is over €20,000 funded by the Agricultural Trust and Macra Agricultural Skillnet.