Carbon sequestration for dairy farmers

Supervisors

Martine Hoogsteen (FSE Wageningen UR)
Egbert Lantinga (FSE Wageningen UR)

Introduction

All over Europe, soil degradation is accelerating and global climate change has contributed to a faster breakdown of soil organic matter (SOM). Loss of SOM and increasing soil compaction are nowadays major threats for an optimal functioning of soil processes. The European commission has acknowledged the problem and made a proposal for a Soil Framework Directive to prevent further loss of valuable soil functions.

Currently, the Dutch dairy sector faces losses of SOM due to warmer and wetter climate (faster breakdown), a reduced crop rotation (continuous monocropping of maize) and a decreasing supply of organic amendments. So far, the positive effects of increased use of crop rotation amongst others have been investigated. However, other measures to increase the SOM-content or decrease the breakdown have received little attention. This research project focuses on the adoption of different grazing management systems and use of smart mixtures of pasture species to enhance carbon sequestration on Dutch dairy farms. By introducing drought resistant and deep rooting grass species next to white clover might lead to an increased SOM-content.

Objective

To investigate whether the use of mixtures of pasture species under different grazing management systems can lead to an increase in SOM.

Martine.jpg

Procedures

Three mixtures of grass species, with and without white clover, will be sown on a sandy soil and a clayey soil both located in Wageningen, the Netherlands. Different grazing regimes (set stocking – paddock grazing – pure graze) will be simulated by mowing and every month soil samples will be taken for SOM and soil nitrogen determination.

Simultaneously, three farms in the neighbourhood of Wageningen with the above mentioned grazing regimes are being monitored and the SOM content is measured throughout the year.

Experiences gained

  • Writing a sound research proposal
  • Getting acquainted with laboratory equipment and techniques for SOM-analysis
  • Using statistical techniques for data analysis
  • Writing an MSc thesis in the form of a manuscript for a scientific journal