Voices from Farms4Climate’s Living Labs
Updates from El Harra and El Wahat
El Harra Living lab focuses on training farmers on regenerative/sustainable practices, in particular for the organic and biodynamic agriculture of date palm. Up to date, 100 farms located in El Harra area joined the F4C program, gaining access to support in the forms of free extension services, training programs on agriculture practices and carbon credits schemes, field visits by extension engineers, free membership in SEKEM Extension Office for two years and access to networking events.
The picture above, taken during the training on "Biocontrol of date palm", which objective was to bring solutions to the current problem farmers face when trying to sell and export their product using organic practices as a preparatory towards regenerative agriculture that solve climate issue.
On the other hand, in Wahat Living lab, thanks to the F4C project, a new 20 ha pivot farm area was set up, aiming to test the feasibility of a novel carbon sequestration technique: "Enhanced weathering of basalt in an agricultural setting". The fundamental idea behind the basalt soil amendment in agriculture is to exploit the two natural processes of carbon sequestration: organic using photosynthesis and inorganic using rock weathering. A mode detailed description of this research endeavor can be found in this other article.
Updates from the Spanish living lab
Estimating carbon sequestration in agricultural soils is essential to properly account for the role of agriculture in any climate change mitigation strategy. Therefore, in the Spanish LL, five experimental farms are testing the following regenerative practices and their potential in enhancing Soil Organic Carbon (SOC). These are(a) Green manure; (b) Cereal/cash crop; (c) Cover crop; (d) Organic amendment; (e) Shredding of pruning material.
On the other hand, a feasibility study is being conducted in the Alvelal territory with more than 15.000ha of productive land. The goal is to enable all farmers in the region to certify the sequestered carbon and trade the carbon credits generated. All data are processed on a single, customised digital platform that has been created under the F4C project.
Updates from the Emilia Romagna Region
This living lab is composed by four farms, pioneers in making an operational and integrated use of the following carbon farming practices: C-rich crop residues, root-C input and organic fertilizers such as digestate and compost. The main goal is to demonstrate the climate and agronomic benefits of an operational carbon farming protocol designed for industrial tomato crop rotation, at the same time that developing and validating a reliable, transparent, operational, context-specific and cost-effective Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) system for assessing SOC changes associated to the adoption of this or similar protocols.
Baseline assessment was properly defined and all four farms kick started in June 2022. Two tomato farms received compost (30 ton/ha) before growing and after harvesting, as well as crop rotation (wheat). In the remaining farms, wheat straw was quantified, digestate spread onto surface residues and then straw was incorporated. After 2 months, a cover crop mixture of white mustard and crimson clover was sown and then 5 months later it was terminated mechanically (grinding) and with two passages of disk harrowing for surface biomass incorporation.
(a) Agricultural landscape of Po valley in Piacenza (Emilia Romagna Region); (b) mustard cover crop after grain wheat; (c) strip tillage with digestate injection before second crop sowing; (d) wheat straw incorporation. Credits: Andrea Ferrarini
Updates from the EcoFruit living lab
Located between Basilicata and Calabria regions, the Southern Italy Living Lab run four pilot farm sites: two apricot, kiwifruit (yellow-fleshed variety) orchard and peach orchard, aimed at increasing soil carbon stocks through the implementation of regenerative practices and "Precision Farming", especially focused on improved irrigation and nutrient management. In order to quantify the Ecosystem Services obtainable and being able to properly disseminate results for upscaling at territorial level, an APEX based platform is being implemented and tested as a digital tool for opening up carbon farming opportunities to the sector.
Updates from the Tunisian living lab
Also called Djebba LL, this agricultural system located on the flanks of Jbel el Gorrâa Mount, face the challenge of adapting and taking advantage of an inhospitable topography. Through the use of natural geological formations and the use of stones, local communities have been able to transform the landscape into fertile and productive land. During the development of F4C, among the many activities, the Tunisian Living Lab held a meeting in a school where the students were involved to make them aware of the effect of climate change on water scarcity, carbon sequestration and global warming as well as the proposed solutions.