Healthy soils, profitable farms

This project is transforming farming practices across Belgium and France through an innovative partnership between farmers and agronomists, trained and supported by Soil Capital. Thanks to a combination of regenerative techniques, up to 1,600 farms will sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and boost biodiversity while improving farm profitability and producing nutritious food – all thanks to healthy soil.

The context

Industrial agricultural practices, including the use of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides, heavy ploughing and large monoculture fields have degraded farmland across Europe. As well as impacting farm performance, this affects the amount of carbon that is stored in the soil. This project works with arable farms in Belgium and France that are growing any range of crops on mineral soils to regenerate their farmland.

The project

The core aim of the project is to transition conventional Belgian and French farms to regenerative agriculture. Expert agronomists are working with up to 1,600 farmers to implement the following regenerative techniques: reduce tillage practices; use cover crops between cash crops; rotate crops with nitrogen-fixing legumes; avoid monocultures; swap to organic fertilisers, like manure; and in some cases create agroforestry systems where trees are planted on arable fields. The typical minimum size of farms is around 30 hectares and each farmer is eligible to participate in a sequence of 5-year projects for up to 20 years as this is how long the IPCC advises mineral soils can continue to sequester carbon.

The benefits

By implementing regenerative agriculture practices, the project is restoring the natural fertility of the soil and improving biodiversity of agro-ecosystems, crucially while capturing more carbon than is emitted. For the farmers, the project provides an additional source of income thanks to the carbon finance; improves their market prospects as a sustainable grower; and supports them to become more resilient to unpredictable weather patterns. The project has a vision for tomorrow's agriculture: regenerative and more profitable with a positive environmental impact; farming re-centred on soil and people.

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