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Dear readers,

Our soils are a one of the most valuable good, not only for the farmers within the EU but also for all EU citizens. They provide nutrients to arable crops and plants, they influence water availability and quality, and they provide habitat for (soil) biodiversity. Additionally, our soils are directly linked to climate change, as they can be either a sink or net source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Therefore, our soils provide valuable ecosystem services and functions for the agricultural sector and beyond.

The way how soils are managed and farmed affects the ecosystem services and the quantity of GHGs emitted. On the other hand, soils have the potential to store large quantities of soil organic carbon and could thus act as a sink for GHG emissions.

To reduce their emissions, all of the 12 farmers in Sweden, Italy, and Germany optimized their tillage management practices. They either reduced the frequency of tillage, the depth of tillage, or do not till at all. This practice can improve the microbial activity and soil structure in the upper soil layer. Additionally, higher soil carbon contents in the upper soil layer enhance other soil quality parameters, such as the water infiltration rate, aggregate stability, erosion risk, biological activity and nutrient cycling.

How the SOLMACC farmers implement these practices is one of the topics of this newsletter. Furthermore, we would like to present you two publications on the topics of climate change and agriculture:

  • An IFOAM EU and FiBL report on organic farming and climate change
  • The SOLMACC (student) brochure that explains in detail the practices implemented and their scientific background and how educators can utilize the SOLMACC project results for training purposes.

We also update you on the latest EU policy developments and SOLMACC project activities in the first half of 2017.

Lin Bautze
Scientific coordinator FiBL



SOLMACC practice: reduced tillage, credits Team Kornkammer

Climate-friendly practices applied: reduced tillage and open field day

Reduced tillage has not yet a general definition, but is often referred to a tillage management, which either reduce the depth of tillage or the frequency of tillage practiced. Different machineries are used and special equipment for reduced tillage was developed for the European Union, its climate and soil types1.

The climate change mitigation potential of reduced tillage derives from two sources. On the one hand fossil fuel consumption from farm machinery used can be reduced by this practice. On the other hand, soil GHG emissions that result from soil management can be reduced and additionally carbon sequestrated in the soil can be enhanced by reduced tillage. The increase of soil organic carbon also benefits soil structures and leads to more stabilization of soils.

Are you wondering how SOLMACC farmers in Germany, Italy and Sweden implement this practice? Visit the SOLMACC website to read more.

In 2017, SOLMACC farmers will open their doors for visitors to show the SOLMACC practices and discuss climate-friendly farming with them. The first farm to hold an open field day was the Bioland farm Kreppold. Read the report of the open field day to learn more about the German SOLMACC farmer Johannes Kreppold and his innovative composting method.

Photo © Team Kornkammer

1 MÄDER, P. & BERNER, A. 2011. Development of reduced tillage systems in organic farming in Europe. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, 27, 7-11.

anchor ripper _credits: Daniele Fontanive

Votes on climate change in the European Parliament

On 7 June, NGOs called on their governments for ambitious climate change commitments on the Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR), which is currently undergoing the EU co-decision process. NGOs called for action on all sectors covered by the ESR: transport, buildings, waste and agriculture. IFOAM EU participated to this day of action because agriculture should do its fair share to reduce GHG emissions and should not be exempted from any meaningful targets.

Photo: Anchor ripper used by the SOLMACC farm Caramadre
© Daniele Fontanive

SOLMACC Field day sotasen

New publications: report on organic farming and climate change and brochure for students

Today, climate change is making farming more challenging, for example with an increase in extreme weather events, such as regular and stronger floods and droughts. Harvest losses, irredeemable damage to natural resources and the destruction of farmers’ economic viability are among the most serious effects. On the other hand, the farming sector is a significant contributor to climate change. Agriculture is responsible for about 10% of the total direct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the EU.

However, applying the right farming techniques makes a huge difference: Farms can become both more resilient to the effects of climate change and at the same time spare the environment from detrimental climate gases and contribute to food security.

Two publications aim at bringing the potential of agriculture in countering climate change closer to policy makers, scientists and students of agriculture:

Photo: Students and visitors of a SOLMACC field day in Sweden
© Oscar Franzén

SOLMACC session Biofach 2017

SOLMACC events: Experts discuss the potential socio-economic benefits of climate-friendly farming

How can the use of climate friendly farming practices be scaled up in order to make a contribution to climate change mitigation and adaptation? To address this question, 17 experts with backgrounds in research, retail, and processing gathered to develop potential strategies at the socio-economic roundtable.

The SOLMACC project and the work with the famers were also part of a public seminar at BioFach. During the session, the project served as a good example of a initiatives that show how science and practice work together to develop practical solutions to realise this potential.

Photo: Lin Bautze presenting SOLMACC at Biofach 2017
© Sigrid Griese


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