Commoditrader, the digital platform for agricultural trade, launched CommodiCarbon in Romania, a CO2e certification program that encourages and rewards farmers’ transition to conservative agriculture. In addition to major benefits for the environment, this initiative is expected to diversify farmers’ sources of income and increase their profit margins by up to 70%.
Agriculture is one of the most affected sectors by climate change and also one of the industries that can make the biggest difference by absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere and store it in the soil through plant photosynthesis. The solution in both cases is conservative agriculture, which is based on the retention of plant debris from previous crops, minimal soil disturbance and the corresponding rotation of crops. Moreover, it is well-known that global warming is also determined by greenhouse gas emissions, which is why rational soil and crop management is needed. Consequently, this turns farmers into first-line heroes in protecting the environment.
Conservative agriculture, also called carbon farming, was included among the main agricultural measures in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post 2020, as well as in the strategy for the development of the medium and long term agri-food sector, horizon 2020 – 2030, of MADR.
The 27 EU countries emit 4.4 billion greenhouse gases (GHG) a year, while EU agricultural soils contain around 14 billion tonnes of carbon in the upper soil, an undeniable impact in the fight against global warming, according to a Euractiv source.
“Climate change debates are ongoing, both in terms of agricultural research and at the political level, with pressure and a stronger emphasis on conservative agriculture than ever before. Production and cultivation methods are the key to a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and it is estimated that a total restructuring of all European agriculture could lead to a 11%-23% reduction in the level of GHGs in the atmosphere”, says Ida Boesen, founder of Commoditrader.
CommodiCarbon will allow farmers to plan a full or partial conversion to conservative agriculture, which captures carbon in the soil and reduces CO2 emissions. The conversion assessment and quantification of low CO2 emissions are performed on a yearly basis, as CO2 is stored every year when the conservation agriculture practices are implemented. As a result, carbon certificates are issued, which can be further sold to organizations with ambitious climate targets, and farmers are rewarded annually.
“Each hectare of agricultural land has an average yearly potential to store 3 to 7 tons of CO2. In other words, a 100-hectare farmer can record and store the carbon footprint of 25 households – every year for 15-20 years. Agriculture, thus, has the opportunity to make a big difference in the fight against climate and, at the same time, to obtain financial support for the transition itself “, continues Ida Boesen.
The value of the certificate is estimated at 10-15 euros, but varies depending on the additional measures adopted by the farmer from year to year, in the process of conservative agriculture. Compared to other European countries, Romania’s potential to make a conservative agriculture is higher due to its high quality soil and good climate in our country.
Benefits of the conservative agriculture
The inspiration for this initiative comes from the US, where the link between conservative agriculture and active trade in carbon certificates from local farms works great. The big advantage of such certificates is their direct traceability and, therefore, their great credibility from a trading perspective. The calculation method and algorithms behind CommodiCarbon are based on internationally recognized research, IPCC (UN Climate Panel) guidelines and models developed by leading European universities.
Carbon certificates can be considered as a crop surplus, which is capitalized at the end of the production season and, as in the case of regular crops, the benefits begin to appear as the plants grow. In addition to the incomes from the sale of carbon certificates, other gains are obtained, by significantly reducing production costs, because the methods of conservative agriculture reduce the costs of fuel, labor and maintenance of machinery, up to 50%. At the same time, the retention of plant debris at the soil surface increases the amount of beneficial nutrients and water stored in the soil. A major advantage considering this year’s drought, a disaster for Romania’s agriculture, which led to a 14.5% decrease in cereal harvest compared to the previous year (data from the European Commission).
The farmers behind the initiative
Commoditrader farmer and investor Kim Kjær Knudsen has been part of the Commoditrader team in recent years and was the first farmer to actively support the company’s development and, moreover, invested in a large farm in Romania, JD Agro Cocora. He believes that the project helps pave the way for a sustainable future for agriculture.
“In my opinion, we must no longer be ‘only’ food producers for a growing global population, but we must also be a key player in tackling climate challenges. CommodiCarbon is a big step in this direction and, as farmers, we support it! ”Says Kim Kjær Knudsen.
Partnership with the Romanian Corn Producers Association
Commoditrader has entered into a strategic partnership with the Romanian Corn Producers Association for the CommodiCarbon project, to provide farmers with the necessary support and assistance in the transition to conservative agriculture, advising them on the adoption of new agricultural practices.
“We are confident that, in collaboration with Commoditrader, we will be able to provide additional benefits to our members, providing them with a business model better suited to their needs, but also aligned with the requirements of society,” said Cristina Cionga, APPR Director of European Affairs . “The CAP could play a major role in rewarding sustainable agricultural practices, including C-farming.”