Farmers are a step closer to being able to trade the carbon they store or capture on their farms - whether that be in their soils or in their hedgerows.
However, before they can get involved in trading, a framework for certifying carbon removals must be established.
The first hurdle in establishing this framework was crossed in Brussels on Wednesday 30 August when the European Parliament's agriculture committee voted in favour of key carbon farming legislation by a majority vote of 31 to six.
Carbon removals refer to the process of capturing and storing carbon from the atmosphere or other sources to mitigate and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
According to the legislation, any activity that sequesters carbon and achieves a greenhouse gas emissions reduction on farm level can be certified and is classified as carbon farming.
When multiple different carbon farming activities take place on farm level, a single farm certification may be done.
It is unclear yet how on-farm carbon will be valued.
Their value will also depend on how long the carbon can be verified for. For example, the carbon in peatlands is going to be worth more than the carbon stored on mineral soils.
Carbon farming activities
A non-exhaustive list of examples of carbon farming activities eligible for certification have been detailed in the legislation.
However, this list will be subject to the European Commission's approval.
Nature and landscape activitiesPlanting hedgerows.Planting trees in crop and grasslands.Creation of interspersed habitats/retreats for wildlife with permanent plant cover on agricultural land.
Wetlands and peatlands activitiesCoastal seagrass restoration.Coastal marshland restoration.Coastal dunes vegetation restoration.Peatland restoration - rewetting/reduced drainage of freshwater peatlands.Rainwater bioretention areas/rainwater harvesting.
Cropland activitiesConversion of cropland to permanent grassland.Cultivation of deep rooting plants.Annual cultivation of cover crops/permanent greening, also undersown crops.Cultivation of perennial crops.Cultivation of arable crops.Retention of crop residues.Change of tillage system - to reduced tillage or direct drilling.Reduction of soil compaction by heavy machinery, including the use of permanent tracks.Deep inversion tillage.Agroforestry systems.Orchards and vineyards with minimum soil cover.Lignocellulose from agricultural production.Biochar as soil additive.Cultivation of fibre plants as industrial raw material for mid- to long-lasting products.Cultivation of perennial forage crops permanent grassland activities.Woody plant encroachment on former meadows and pastures.Grazing – optimal intensity.Restoration of degraded grassland through optimal management intensity.Cutting time restrictions for insect- and bird-friendly management.
Forestry activitiesAfforestation/reforestation. Carbon sequestration optimised stand management.Conversion to climate-stable mixed species forests.Rewetting/reduced drainage of forests on low productivity peatlands.Species-rich graded forest edges.Fauna and fungi enhancing measures.Conversion of coppice to stump-planted forest.
Farmers set to be paid for on-farm carbon