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Carbon sequestration on agricultural land

Carbon sequestration on agricultural land is one way to reduce carbon emissions from agriculture and mitigate climate change.

Soil carbon sequestration will be the topic of the informal meeting of EU agriculture ministers to be held in Helsinki on 22–24 September. The ministers will discuss how to best support soil carbon sequestration through, for example, the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Agricultural land is an important carbon stock

Almost half of the EU’s surface area is in agricultural use, and the surface layers of the farmlands store many times more carbon than the EU annually emits into the atmosphere. These carbon stocks must be taken care of and further increased. Carbon stocks on agricultural land in the EU have generally decreased over the past decades.

Farming methods and land use have an impact on carbon sequestration

With the right farming practices, agricultural land can absorb more carbon from the atmosphere. Such practices include winter soil cover, long-term grasslands and reduced tillage. These practices should be taken into wider use, and their impacts should be studied and monitored.

One of the aims at the Informal Meeting of Ministers for Agriculture is to share experiences of ongoing measures in the member states to increase carbon sequestration.

There are also uncertainties attached to soil carbon sequestration. For example, changes in farming practices or land use may release the sequestered carbon back into the atmosphere. Measuring carbon sequestration also poses a challenge, and the effects of the actions taken often only become visible after a long period of time.

Carbon sequestration benefits farmers

In addition to climate benefits, the accumulation of soil carbon has many other advantages: it can improve soil quality and thus improve productivity. Keeping soil in good condition also helps farmers in adapting to climate change and extreme weather events.

The Informal Meeting of Ministers for Agriculture seeks to increase discussion on the benefits, opportunities and challenges of soil carbon sequestration and to encourage member states to support carbon sequestration as part of the CAP.


Ahti Hirvonen, Head of Unit, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, tel. +358 295 162 337, [email protected]
Tuuli Orasmaa, Senior Specialist, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, tel. +358 295 162 056, [email protected]