28 Jun 2021, 14:03
Edgar Meza

Pilot project aims to bind Swedish bread company's CO2 emissions in German rye fields

Europe’s leading crispbread maker Wasa is partnering with German rye suppliers to develop “carbon farming”, a type of organic farming that binds carbon dioxide in the soil while also minimizing pesticides and artificial fertilizers, Daniel Wetzel and Carsten Dierig report for Welt am Sonntag. Wasa is responsible for 98,500 tonnes of annual CO2 emissions but is aiming to further reduce its carbon footprint. Among Wasa's partners is land baron Count Günther von der Schulenburg, one of the first big carbon farmers, and Wasa are taking part in a three-year pilot project organized by US technology company Indigo Agriculture. Part of the count’s land is cultivated in such a way that keeps as much CO2 as possible bound in the soil. Once the grain has been harvested, deep-rooted catch crops ensure the build-up of carbon-rich humus, organic matter that is a key component in organic soil. Satellite-based "precision agriculture" minimizes the use of fertilizers and pesticides and the fields remain unploughed, the article says. The method saves diesel costs since no furrows are ploughed and doubly reduces CO2: no exhaust gases and no broken clod from which CO2 escapes.

Since the organic farming method results in lower yields, Indigo Agriculture is seeking to establish a system that financially rewards the climate performance of farmers. The company would issue verified farmers CO2 certificates which can be turned into money. "This new financing option accelerates the introduction of cultivation methods that have been proven to reduce emissions, remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and replenish an important natural carbon reservoir: the soil," says Georg Goeres, head of Indigo Europe." Germany’s agriculture ministry has invested billions of euros in similar pilot projects in its efforts to decarbonise the sector.

While emissions in other sectors are significantly larger, the agriculture sector is among the toughest to cut emissions from, with some greenhouse gases unavoidable. The new goal of climate neutrality by 2045 forces Germany into a fresh debate about dealing with unavoidable CO2 emissions.

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