Title: Options and implications for agricultural production - Report of Task 7: Final Report
Editors: JONES Arwyn
Publisher: European Union
Publication Year: 2013
JRC N°: JRC88295
ISBN: 978-92-79-35476-2
ISSN: 1831-9424
Other Identifiers: EUR 26516
OP LB-NA-26516-EN-N
URI: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC88295
DOI: 10.2788/77068
Type: EUR - Scientific and Technical Research Reports
Abstract: CAPRESE has led to a better understanding of the potential of using specific land management practices in preserving and increasing the stock of organic carbon in the agricultural soils of the EU. The scientific literature relating to a range of carbon sequestration measures has been synthesised and evaluated for their potential applicability. Land management has a significant impact on SOC stocks with a number of measures clearly leading to carbon emissions. Conversely, a number of practices can be used to preserve and increase SOC levels. A novel modelling platform suggests that existing assessments of the SOC stock associated with agricultural topsoil in the EU may be over-estimating the current pool by around 24%. The project shows a topsoil SOC pool of 16 Gt., 7.4 and 5.4 Gt respectively between arable and pasture. The model shows that grassland conversion to cropland can have a strong negative impact on the overall C balance in the EU and consequently should be preserved (together with peatlands). Promising management practices for sequestering SOC include cover crops, complex rotation including residue management and reduced tillage. Such measures give C sequestration rates of up to 0.5 t C ha-1 yr-1. However, their effect was strongly dependent on the spatial and temporal extent considered and the scenarios clearly show strong regional differences in the performance of measures. An integrated approach in which measures are combined, could have a significant impact. An implementation scenario of a 12% uptake of mitigation measures gave a cumulated sequestration value of 101 Mt by 2020. Increased areas and variation in implementation patterns could give rise to higher values. Extensive and comparable data on the financial aspects of the implementation and cost-benefit of measures are limited or absent. Substantial effort is required to address these issues. Simplistic scenario analysis shows that on the basis of a conservative implementation of mitigation measures, a SOC stock with a perceived trading value of €500 million could be established by 2020. Such values imply that the implementation of the practices considered would be cost efficient compared to non-agricultural mitigation measures While calculations at farm-scale are difficult, agricultural systems and proportion of land that could be made available to SOC management schemes, there is a perceived positive cost-benefit to C preservation and mitigation measures. Return for grasslands where sequestration and preservation rates are higher would clearly be greater. A cost benefit calculated with the CAPRI (FT) model. Indicated no loss in agricultural income from a 5% conversion to grassland with in turn resulted in a value of the CO2 sequestered in the soil as €20.98 t-1 CO2. Comprehensive data on the impact of the implementation of the measures on production and the market are difficult to define as these macro-scale models do not consider the technical details associated with the specific measures that need to be applied to sequester SOC. However, the studies tend to indicate that that impacts on production could occur but these would be of low magnitude and regionally variable. From an economic perspective, the financial implications of the grassland scenario implemented in CAPRI (FT) model, it can be stated that the CAP premium implications are negligible. This is derived from the fact that as most of the direct payments premiums are now decoupled from production the change in the land use derived from the scenario setting is not affecting the total amount of the direct payments. From a policy perspective, it is important that existing good stewardship of land for maintaining existing SOC stocks should be recognised as a premium in comparison to simply sequestration of OC. Such an approach would be an incentive not to engage in conversion of organic-rich soils to other uses which could lead to a decrease in SOC stocks.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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