EJP SOIL advancing the understanding of soil science at the EGU 2023

EJP SOIL made a significant presence at the European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly 2023, held in Vienna, Austria and online from 23–28 April 2023.

From left: Axel Don, Felix Seidel, Claire Chenu, Susanna Hönle, Martin Thorsøe and Irene Criscuoli
From left: Felix Seidel, Axel Don, Bert Smit and Morten Graversgaard

This globally renowned event brought together over 18,000 attendees from 107 countries, covering various disciplines of earth, planetary, and space sciences.

Among the representatives from EJP SOIL was Martin Hvarregaard Thorsøe, the project coordinator for Road4Schemes. At the conference, he presented the ongoing research and findings of the Road4Schemes project, which focuses on exploring incentives for carbon farming. This project aims to identify and promote strategies that encourage the adoption of carbon farming practices to mitigate climate change.

“It was a great platform for us and our project, as it seemed like the entire community of soil researchers were there, and there is a lot of interest in carbon farming and our ongoing research in Road4Schemes," says Martin Hvarregaard Thorsøe, Assistant Professor at Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University and Project Coordinator for Road4Schemes.

Unraveling organic matter inputs and N2O Emissions

One of the other EJP SOIL projects presented at EGU is SOMMIT, an initiative focused on assessing the trade-offs and synergies between soil carbon sequestration, nitrous oxide, methane, and nitrate losses under various soil management options.

Elena Valkama from Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) presented the ongoing study about the effects of adding different organic matter inputs to soil on N2O emissions in Europe. This study includes the quantitative synthesis of experimental results obtained in 46 sites established across 15 European countries. Diverse arable crops were cultivated in monoculture or in crop rotations on mineral soils. N2O emissions have been monitored in the fields that have received either solely organic matter inputs or in combination with inorganic fertilization, as well as inorganic fertilization as a control. The impact of pedo-climatic characteristics, agricultural management practices, the nature and quality of organic matter inputs on N2O emissions were studied.

The results showed that the effect of organic matter inputs on N2O emissions was highly variable, ranging from -75% to +200% compared to inorganic fertilization. The summarized effect across all studies was a slight tendency to emission reduction (-10%).   

Among the different types of organic matter inputs, only biochar and compost significantly reduced N2O emissions by 25-33 %, compared to inorganic fertilization. The effect of biochar and compost depended on climate, with less emission reduction in hot or in dry climate conditions than in temperate climate. Other types of organic matter inputs, such as green manure, crop residues, livestock manure, slurry and digestate emitted N2O as much as inorganic fertilizers.

Prestenting a review on soil carbon accounting initiatives

In the context of EJP SOIL’s Work Package on Science to Policy interaction, CREA-PB has been actively engaged in advancing carbon farming initiatives over the past 6 months. As part of this effort, a review on soil carbon accounting initiatives was presented at the EGU in the session titled “Soil Policy and legislation: the role of science, transdisciplinary research and data.”

The review specifically examined the methodologies applied for the issuance of Carbon credits from Carbon farming practices in Australia, Alberta in Canada, and the United States. These methodologies were analyzed and compared with the new proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a Union certification framework for carbon removal.

Based on the review, the CREA-PB team in collaboration with Martin Hvarregaard Thorsøe from the Road4schemes project and Claire Chenu, the coordinator of the EJP SOIL Programme, have provided feedback to the European Commission regarding the proposed regulation and replied to the technical survey launched by the directorate-general for climate action (DG-CLIMA) to gather information on certification methodologies for carbon farming.

the CREA-PB team has produced a video introducing all stakeholders to the complex concepts of Carbon farming, Carbon accounting and Carbon credits (See link below) 

Soil science at global scale

The strong presence of EJP SOIL researchers at this prominent event emphasizes EJP SOIL’s commitment to advancing the understanding of soil science on a global scale.

For further information:

Project coordinator: Marthin Thosøe: martinh.thorsoe@au.dkLearn more about Road4Schemes.

For more information about the study: A meta-analysis of field experiments on the effect of organic matter inputs on N2O emissions in European land by Elena Valkama, Domna Tzemi, Ulises Ramon Esparza Robles, Adam O'Toole, and Alina Syp.

Watch the video - introducing all stakeholders to the complex concepts of Carbon farming, Carbon accounting and Carbon credits