A Co. Roscommon-based agri-tech company that provides digital farm soil-management solutions has reported a growing interest from farmers in ways they can help mitigate the effects of climate change.
Farmeye is a software company set up in 2017 that maps data for farmers. One of the more popular services requested from Farmeye by farmers over the last couple of years is soil carbon analysis and mapping.
Agriland caught up with Farmeye co-founder and CEO, Eoin Finneran, to find out more about what data the company is gathering on carbon capturing.
He explained: “Currently, a farmer needs to go to a voluntary carbon market to sell carbon but post-2030, it’s expected the carbon market will be incorporated into the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and will become part of agricultural/environmental schemes.”
Finneran explained that carbon will be sold on the amount that has been sequestered every year.
“If a farm starts at 200t/ha last year and next year has 210/t/ha in the field, the farmer can sell the 10t difference and the year after, if the level of carbon in the soil increases by 5t/ha the farmer can sell the 5t/ha, and so on.”
Farmeye data shows that long-term, permanent pasture is where the highest levels of carbon is found in the soil.
Recently, Farmeye presented results to a farmer who sequestered €37,000 worth of carbon over a one-year period on a 100ha farm.
Finneran said: “Farmers are lucky in that they have the opportunity right under their feet to pull carbon out of the atmosphere and store it the ground.
“The key for farmers to be able to monetise this carbon capturing or to get financial value from it is to be able to verifiably measure it.”
To accurately measure the level of carbon in a farm’s soil, specialist technology is required and that is where Farmeye comes into the equation.
Finneran continued: “Before we call to a farm to do the sampling, we split the farm up into what we would call carbon estimation areas.
“Essentially, we are looking at the history of each field and how it’s been managed. If there are two fields side-by-side with the same soil type but one was grazing field and the other was in tillage, we would separate them into different carbon estimation areas and there would be sampled separately.
“We group paddocks and take one carbon sample for approximately every 5ha.”
“We need to come back to the same square meter of ground next year and the year after and monitor that change of carbon in the soil over time.”
The technology used by the company can record “down to the square centimeter” where the location of the sample is from in the field.
The samples are then geo-tagged, bar-coded and dispatched to the laboratory and full digital traceability is in place all along the chain.
“Every living thing is made up off carbon, the manure that’s spread from grazing livestock all goes down and decomposes in the soil and becomes part of the carbon cycle.”
“Carbon at a carbon dioxide equivalent price of €50/t would mean on most farms, the value of the carbon in the soil is worth more than the value of the stock in the yard.”
From the farmer’s perspective, good farming practices will increase the level of carbon in the soil and negative farming practices will decrease the level in the soil so it’s a win-win.
“What’s good for environment in terms of putting carbon in the soil is good for the farmer, the land and the farm system,” Finneran explained.