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Pioneering soil carbon project launched

The project will see high intensity, field-by-field soil carbon stock quantified
"This pioneering soil carbon capture project will help farmers and other land managers to increase and restore carbon stores in soils and ecosystems. It is vital that this carbon benefit is realised in the short term to address the climate crisis.”

First Milk, Nestlé and Agricarbon have announced the launch of a pioneering soil carbon capture project, with scientific guidance from leading soil ecologist and James Hutton Institute Honorary Associate, Dr Helaina Black.

The project will use state-of-the-art machinery to carry out intensive soil carbon analysis at a fraction of the usual cost, to establish a comprehensive and scientifically robust soil carbon baseline for First Milk farms, allowing soil carbon sequestration to be quantified over time.

The initial phases of the project are being conducted in partnership with Nestlé, which is supporting this as part of its climate journey roadmap, building robust scientific data, with partners, to effectively drive meaningful progress in carbon reduction through its supply chain.

The project will see high intensity, field-by-field soil carbon stock quantified across 40 farms, with the intention to extend this to 100 First Milk farms by the end of 2021.

Commenting on the announcement, Mark Brooking, First Milk Sustainability Director, said: “Having robust, scientifically-validated soil carbon data is absolutely critical to the successful delivery of our net zero strategy, and we look forward to collaborating with Nestlé and Agricarbon as we roll out this ground-breaking initiative.

“Moving forward, we’ll be working with all of our farmer members and external advisers, using this data to understand soil carbon levels and inform the development of practical regenerative plans for farms that capture additional soil carbon through sequestration, whilst maintaining and enhancing productivity and efficiency.”

Annie Leeson, from Agricarbon, added: “We are delighted to launch our service through this collaboration with First Milk and Nestlé. The project represents a breakthrough in the visibility of soil carbon stock for UK farms. Agricarbon’s baseline will provide the ideal foundation for First Milk farmers to demonstrate their commitment to proactive soil stewardship and the soil carbon sequestration they can achieve as a result.”

Dr Helaina Black, Hutton Honorary Associate, commented: “I’m pleased to be able to support initiatives like this pioneering soil carbon capture project, which will help farmers and other land managers to increase and restore carbon stores in soils and ecosystems.

“It is vital that this carbon benefit is realised in the short term to address the climate crisis.”

The James Hutton Institute has over 90 years’ experience in soil and crop research and also hosts Scotland’s National Soils Archive, which is a reference to the state of the soils in the past and is used to test new analysis and to monitor changes in soil over time.

Easy access to data from this vast archive is also available through two free mobile apps, SIFSS and SOCiT, which enable land managers, farmers and enthusiastic amateur growers to learn more about their soil while out in the field or allotment.

More information from: 

Bernardo Rodriguez-Salcedo, Media Manager, James Hutton Institute, Tel: +44 (0)1224 395089 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard) or +44 (0)7791 193918 (mobile).


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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.