Workshop: Exploring Carbon Farming for Sustainable Agriculture in Austria

A workshop on carbon farming, hosted by the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety, focused on sustainable agriculture. Participants explored how carbon farming can benefit climate-friendly soil management and boost resilience in agriculture.

Welcoming speech of Mag. Elisabeth Jöchlinger (AGES); Photo: Heide Spiegel
Sophie Zechmeister-Boltenstern (BOKU); Photo: Heide Spiegel
Photo: Heide Spiegel
Andreas Baumgarten (AGES); Photo: Heide Spiegel
Podium discussion with practitioners; Photo: Heide Spiegel

The Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES) recently hosted a hybrid carbon farming workshop, gathering over 200 participants from diverse stakeholder groups. The event, which combined with the EJP SOIL WP2 activity, aimed to share knowledge and identify barriers in carbon farming practices across Austria.

Workshop Overview

Titled "Carbon farming – why and for whom?", the workshop took place on March 13, 2024, at AGES in Vienna. It featured 51 participants on-site and 177 online, all keen on exploring the significance, challenges, and potential solutions of carbon farming. The event was hosted by AGES/BIOS Science Austria and sought to delve into carbon farming’s relevance for climate-friendly soil management.

Key Insights and Discussions

The workshop began with an overview of the scientific progress in climate-friendly soil management, emphasizing the need to drastically reduce emissions for climate neutrality by 2050. Discussions also touched on the benefits of carbon farming, including additional income for farmers and enhanced biodiversity. Legal frameworks, EU soil monitoring directives, and certification for carbon removal were also covered.

The results of a national survey on “Knowledge availability and barriers for knowledge use,” conducted as part of the EJP SOIL WP2 activity, were presented. The survey highlighted the importance of knowledge exchange, the need for more financial resources, and the creation of appropriate laws and guidelines for sustainable soil management. Key challenges identified included preventing soil erosion, maintaining or increasing soil organic carbon (SOC), and avoiding soil sealing.

Interactive Participation

Participants engaged through interactive tools, discussing the strengths, weaknesses, risks, and opportunities of sustainable soil management. Strengths like climate resilience, water storage, erosion protection, soil health, and fertility were highlighted. Weaknesses focused on bureaucracy, costs, and uncertainties, while threats centered on financial incentives, bureaucratic hurdles, climate change, and extreme weather events. Opportunities identified included climate adaptation, improved soil health and fertility, and increased biodiversity. The interactive results will be included in the WP2 activity report.

Moving Forward

The workshop provided insights into carbon farming indicators and the relationship between humus buildup and greenhouse gas emissions. A roadmap for implementing carbon farming was proposed, emphasizing the need for clear goals and robust evaluation.

Practical Perspectives

A panel of four Austrian practitioners offered practical perspectives on carbon farming implementation, discussing challenges and sharing experiences. The event concluded with reflections on the importance of carbon farming for yields, soil health, and climate adaptation. The workshop highlighted the critical role of carbon farming in sustainable agriculture and advocated for collaborative efforts to tackle challenges and optimize practices for a resilient future.


Elisabeth Jöchlinger - Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES)
Sophie Zechmeister-Boltenstern – BOKU University
Andrea Spanischberger, Austrian Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry, Regions and Water Management
Nora Mitterböck, Austrian Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology
Martina Kittinger - BOKU University
Sigbert Huber - Environment Agency Austria
Kerstin Michel - Austrian Research Centre for Forests
Heide Spiegel - Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES)
Andreas Baumgarten - Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES)

Podium discussion:

Martina Höfler, farmer
Helga Bernold, farmer
Christoph Reithofer, Bioforschung Austria and farmer
Hans Gnauer, association „Boden.Leben“ and farmer
Moderation: Taru Sandén and Anna Wawra - Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES)