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Increasing carbon in your farm soils - wider benefits

Wider benefits to society and the planet

Farms make significant contributions to the country, producing food, managing landscapes, being part of the water system and impacting on climate change. If soils are managed to maximise carbon gains the wider benefits to society are very significant.

Food

Food from farming systems with higher soil carbon levels:

  • Have higher nutrient densities
  • Contribute positively to national food security
  • Are of a higher quality, making a positive contribution to people's health

Soils

We tend to think of soils just within our farm boundaries, but collectively they are all society has to produce food!

  • Soils are a nation's greatest asset
  • Organic matter levels have been falling, a trend that needs to reverse
  • Healthy soils are very important for national resilience

Landscape

Landscapes are largely made up of farms (77% of UK land area), so farm management directly shapes the British landscape

  • Biodiversity of the soil ecosystem is increased
  • This supports more above ground biodiversity - including insects, birds and animals
  • Farms that have diversity of crops/animals and high levels of biodiversity contribute positively to landscape character
  • High quality landscapes contribute positively to the well being of people that experience them

Water

Farming is the main land use in most water catchments. Soil management has a significant impact on water in any landscape.

  • Flood risk is reduced if water can infiltrate soils easily - water is slowed down through the landscape
  • Water quality is enhanced if filtered through soils with high carbon levels
  • Rivers are much healthier if water flowing in to them is clean and not full of sediment

Climate change

Farming is directly responsible for 9% of UK national greenhouse gas emissions. The collective impact of farmers and growers decisions can have a large impact on the UK's carbon footprint. Indeed this will be very necessary to meet the climate change targets set in law by the UK Government.

  • Emissions are reduced, particularly from lower artificial fertiliser use and less oxidised carbon
  • Carbon sequestration in soils offers enormous potential to reduce atmospheric carbon levels
  • If food with a high carbon footprint (e.g. soy from Brazil) is offset - i.e. grown in UK rather than imported significant global GHGs are saved