CarbonToSoil is a non-profit organisation educating & creating awareness about reverse climate change, and connecting consumers and farmers
Carbon to Soil is a non-profit organisation, that educates about the potential of reverse climate change through a change in agricultural practices. Conventional, industrial farming practices have depleted the soils of its carbon, and are a major cause (40-50%) of global greenhouse gas emissions. Agriculture is the major industry causing global warming, but has also the potential to reverse climate change. Regenerative agriculture can be the solution.
The majority of people are not familiar with the potential of agriculture, and CarbonToSoil is the link that connects the farmers and people. Firstly by connecting the people through an online integration with the farmers, and secondly by educating and raising awareness about the matter. CarbonToSoil is the first solution, that is connecting the end-user with the farmers.
In the CarbonToSoil app consumers can support farms to change their agricultural methods to regenerative farming. The app also allows the user to personally participate in food production and to see how food is grown. Users can support the cause by in-app purchases, as a way to directly make an impact for reversing climate change through supporting Carbon Farmers.
CarbonToSoil is working with Soil&Co, that is educating and supporting the farmers, and provides the channel where Carbon Farmed food is sold and distributed. The organisations share the same farmers in order to create the most value to all parties: farmers, food producers and end-customer, as well as the environment. Knowledge and information sharing allows for a united mission to be accomplished in a public-private collaboration.
In a small team of eight, we built up the non-profit (service design, marketing, sales, business), as well as the Education side of CarbonToSoil (service design, web development, education). We have so far been able to accomplish this with private funding from Finland.
What actions do you propose?
As CarbonToSoil we want to help people understand that Climate Change impacts are local, personal, and immediate. We want to empower them to be part of the solution and make an impact to reverse climate change:
1. Developing & growing digital channels (e.g. website, app) as well as non-digital channels (e.g. campaigns) to bring together consumers and farmers & create awareness about Carbon Farming as a solution to climate change.
We would like to further develop the website we have built up (www.carbontosoil.com) and increase our reach by translating to various more languages. As we are making use of easily shareable media and technology, in order to reach a wide audience of people, we would like to develop those to maximise the reach and message.
We have also built a pilot applications available in the Apple app store (https://itunes.apple.com/fi/app/carbontosoil/id993264216?mt=8) as well as on Google Play (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.grassroots.grassroots) conceptualising and testing the idea of connecting the farmers and consumers even closer, as well as allowing support for the cause through ‘adopting’ a field to be transformed to Carbon Farming. We are designing a donation integration in order for anyone to support the cause, which we would like to develop further.
Having built resources (web, app) for learning about climate change and advocating soil carbon and agricultural methods as the solution we would like to produce our own content, such as videos and campaigns to engage more people around the topic. Having a team of creative minds at our disposal we are full of ideas connecting people through events, campaigns and online media. Having done already a succesful campaign in the past (‘Ei paskempi idea’/‘Not a shitty idea’, http://www.eipaskempiidea.fi/), we can magnify the impact even beyond the internet and the classroom.
2. Building and developing an educational integration to engage students and educators alike.
For educators we have developed a currently freely available educational teaching toolkit and integration in Finland (‘Hiili maahan’/’Carbon to soil’, www.hiilimaahan.fi), teaching about what climate change is, its causes and effects as well as how to have an impact. It encourages students proactively take action by prompting them to create videos about what they have learned. Through a competition model we encourage the sharing of those videos on the integration itself. Hereby schools can challenge other schools to participate. A winner is decided by a panel after each respective competition cycle. Altogether we have had 5 schools, 7 classes and about 250 students participating in the pilot. For the first competition cycle pilot we have received 8 competition submissions, with the final winners having been announced at Finland’s biggest Ecological Food fair in Helsinki in April 2016. Media coverage was achieved in Helsingin Sanomat, Finland’s biggest newspaper, as well as on social media, reaching over about 10,000 people, and one article in a local newspaper.
We engage the students through a tangible and hands-on approach by teaching about climate change and its causes & effects through phenomenon-based learning. Phenomenon-based learning encourages teaching that is focused on simultaneously utilising multiple skills on project-based ways of working. Embracing the use of technology and encouraging an out-of-the-classroom mindset, students learn in ways that encourages them to follow their own thinking and mode of operation.
The participating schools have shown great interest in the program, and the feedback was very positive both from the students and the teachers alike. 70% of the students said that the learning model was encouraging and motivating. Some students considered the project so interesting that they even considering a career within this field in the future, working with issues related to the wellbeing of the planet. The teachers especially were thankful for a complete package of materials, tool-sets and guidelines on the topic. They highly recommended other teachers to use the same toolkit in their classes. The unanimous feedback was an awakening of both the teachers and students into an important subject, with a feeling of the ability to make impact.
Comments from the students:
“Climate change as a concept interests me more after this project”
“It was fun”
“I’m more interested in climate change after this project!”
Comments from the teachers:
“Working together from the start until the end, everything in this project was truly created together”
“The most valuable part was to see students wake up and think about important issues”
“The concept awakens the students, encourages and motivates with a professional approach”
As a next step we would like the classroom toolkit to be applied, tested and developed even further, as we are aiming at expanding our reach and respective impact by translating the educational content into major languages to be able to teach about climate change in various countries. In order to facilitate and support the teaching events we will need an increased amount of local ambassadors to help us raise awareness amongst schools and educators and to carry teaching sessions.
3. Carry out even more and more frequent educational events for farmers, expanding to other countries
CarbonToSoil is working in collaboration with Soil&Co, that provides the farmer education and support. The two organisations share information & knowledge, and Soil&Co contributes to help CarbonToSoil, as their mission is the same - to reverse climate change by changing the way we grow our food. CarbonToSoil and Soil&Co share the same farmer network in order to create the maximum impact for all stakeholders (farmers, consumers, companies and environment). Soil&Co helps CarbonToSoil to expand to other countries.
4. Build strong partnership network of partners
In addition to the extensive network of already existing initiatives such as Carbon Underground and Kiss the Ground, CarbonToSoil is looking to create collaborations with leading scientists and experts in the field, in order to bring the latest and most accurate information to the public. The organisation aims to connect the information and knowledge to the public, and to engage the public to support the studies and the change in agriculture to Carbon Farming.
Aligning with other interests groups in regards of food, agriculture, education and activism in order to make an impact in society at large.
5. Collaboration with governments and other initiatives, in order to raise awareness of the soil solution to climate problems.
4pour1000 Inititative by the French Ministry of Agriculture
Aims to increase soil carbon by 0.4% in agricultural soils in order to mitigate climate change and to increase food security
Collects researchers, stakeholders and interest groups into one consortia, that aims to bring the soil carbon solution to the intergovernmental deciding bodies, such as UN’s COP22 agreement, as a solution to climate change.
We want to engage stakeholders & partners to participate in decision-making and to push for legislation that allows for a change to happen towards a more sustainable use of resources
Collaborations with universities in order to enhance the study and knowledge of carbon sequestration, in order to advance the understanding and to increase the awareness of the cause.
Sustainable Art & Education course about CarbonToSoil
Students are learning about the organisation, what it has achieved and its challenges in order to come up with new solutions and practices
The University of Helsinki
Collaboration on carbon sequestration measurement for the education program, the idea is to create tools for the school students to be able measure the amount of carbon in the soil
Possible collaboration with a private globally well-known data and AI provider that automates predictive analytics and data visualizations (under non-disclosure agreement)
Who will take these actions?
The steps on the road to extending CarbonToSoil’s impact on driving the reversal of climate change is described below:
We aim at empowering people to understand and become part of the solution. We would like to heavily increase the amounts of students reached. Activating more students across the board to create their own videos and to challenge other students.
Petitions - expanding the reach to include parents to pressure the government to anchor the complex topic of climate change in national curriculums
The children – the students – take these learnings back home. As also the parents learn about Carbon Farming they are able to influence through their purchasing decisions.
Ideally we hope that farmers will not only adopt Carbon Farming methods of their own but also share their knowledge and insights with other farmers, proactively becoming a driving force of change themselves.
5. Scientists & Educated Farmers
Working with an already existing network of scientists and already educated farmers we have carried out farmer education and are planning collaborative research projects, and working together to create a movement to change agriculture practices.
6. A network of companies and initiatives
Companies and the business sector is a big part of the change, as consumers will demand Carbon Farmed food as their awareness and understanding increases, and companies will have to supply them as well as speak for the regenerative agriculture movement for their own sake.
CarbonToSoil will work with other initiatives and organisations in order to create a movement around regenerative Carbon Farming.
- Push for legislation to standardise Carbon Farming - subsidise farmers for sequestering carbon
- Educate people about carbon & nutrient cycles
- Support research & development
Where will these actions be taken?
We are currently operating out of Finland where we started our efforts. We are planning on concentrating on the Nordics in the beginning however due to the global impact, we need to take our initiative to other markets as we grow.
Australia and the US are particularly interesting to us as there are already established movements around Carbon Farming in both countries. As our operations grow, and when we have the ability to, we will instantly expand to developing countries where the need is much greater, as they are often struggling the most with droughts and floods. The climate impact is also greater in countries with hotter climates, and the greater the depletion of the soil - the greater the potential of regenerating it.
How will these actions have a high impact in addressing climate change?
Studies have shown, that by restoring industrially degraded soil we can sequester 1-8 ton of carbon per hectare per year (Rattan Lal, Machmuller et al.) depending on the studies. 30 ton per hectare per year have been shown in outlier studies (Richard Teague). We use 3 tons per hectare per year (Rodale Institute).
3t C/ ha/ yr x 5 bill ha = 15 Gt C
x 20 yrs = 300 Gt C
1ppm CO2 = 2 Gt C
300Gt C/2 = 150 ppm CO2
402ppm–150ppm = 252ppm (or 13ppm below pre-Industrial Age levels)
C=Carbon Ha=Hectare Gt=Gigatons PPM= Parts Per Million
Restoring the 1 billion hectare of farmland in the US would result in an annual sequestration of 3 Gt carbon, and with 5 billion hectares of farming land globally there is a potential to sequester 15 Gt carbon every year. The UN & the Paris COP21 agreement highlight a 20 year horizon, multiplying that gives 300 Gt carbon. Reducing that from current ppm-levels would give the potential to return to pre-industrial levels of 252ppm.
Reference: Carbon Underground.
What are other key benefits?
- Grow better, more nutritious Carbon Farmed food
- Grow kid’s curiosity through phenomenon-based learning approach
- Build a integration for other initiatives to contribute to and benefit from
- Better food security and increased food quality meaning more nutritious soils and more nutritious food
- Understanding and equipments for future generations to face global challenges
- Connection to food producers, understanding where the food comes from
- Increased confidence in farming methods due to increased knowledge
- Support from consumer to farmer
- Support from large partner network of for instance scientists and agronomists
- Development of science-based methodologies (UN, World Bank references)
- Better resistance to climate change & weather phenomenons such as floods, droughts and other extreme conditions
- A comprehensive and scalable solution to a complex problem, that unites several stakeholder to work together in order to solve the problem everyone is facing
What are the proposal’s costs?
Staff, rent, tech & dev, education, marketing, materials, transport, legal & accounting, overhead costs
Expansion, R&D, education, tech, staff, marketing, transport, legal & accounting, overhead costs
Expansion, R&D, investments, education, staff, marketing, administrative costs, overhead costs
In the first year we aim at building up a team and structure that supports an increased amount of farm visits (Finland: 100 visitors in 2016). In 2017 we would like farm visits to increase to 200.
Furthermore we are planning on developing the website & app by localising into more languages as well as refining the pilot applications to attract donations to support the cause widely. We would like to start a crowdfunding campaign for CarbonToSoil. Realise ideas and concepts for further marketing campaigns and events. We would also formalise the concept of the donation integration and launch it.
On the education side localise the teaching toolkit. The further development of the educational program with Helsingin Yliopisto and our partners is planned.
Last but not least we are planning on partnering up with intergovernmental organisations through 4p1000 Initiative.
We plan on operating in 2 countries. 2000 Farm visits in Finland, out of which 500 farm visits would be in another country.
On the education side we would like the education to happen already in 5 countries, encompassing 2 more languages on top of Finnish and English.
Within 5 years we would like to be operating in 5 countries, completed 10.000 farm visits.
The education is in 10 countries, encompassing 4 more languages on top of Finnish and English.
5 - 15 years
Within the next 5 -15 years we will be expanding heavily to developing countries. Furthermore we will be collaborating with other organisations and businesses in order to transition societies towards more sustainable habits.
15 - 50 years
In the next 15 - 50 years we aim to reach 30 countries and have completed 1.000.000 farm visits. The threat of climate change has been avoided. CarbonToSoil is the umbrella organisation for all regenerative carbon farming initiatives.
50 - 100 years
In the next 50 - 100 years all farming is Carbon Farming and climate change has been reversed.
Liquid Nanoclay (LNC) retains water and fertilizer better than impoverished soil. In sandy deserts it is said to result in the same yield as in good USA farm soil. We see potential in collaborating with this initiative i.e. in locations with bad droughts. One application of LNC lasts for 5 years. If we apply Carbon Farming simultaneously with first LNC application, after five years (length of the LNC cycle) we hope to result in nutritious and resilient soil that is able to hold water without any external synthetic agents. This potential collaboration requires more research, and is dependent on the methods that LNC uses.
The proposal tackles the same challenge as we do – but in the mangrove forests. They suggest a “ridge to reef” approach. By combining these two initiatives we could gain synergies and approach the challenge holistically.
Rattan Lal, study Ohio State https://sustainability.water.ca.gov/documents/18/3407623/Soil+carbon+sequestration+to+mitigate+climate+change.pdf
Rodale Institute White Paper ‘Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change: A Down-to-Earth Solution to Global Warming’ http://02f.e55.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Rodale-Institute-White-Paper-1.pdf
Rodale Institute ‘The Farming Systems Trial’
The Carbon Underground ‘The Formula is easier than you think’ https://thecarbonunderground.org/the-formula-is-easier-than-you-think/
Carbon Underground ‘Science’
New York Times ‘A Boon for Soil, and for the Environment’
French Goverment ‘4 Pour 1000’ Initiative
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development ‘Trade and Environment Review 2013’
The World Bank’s ‘Carbon Sequestration in Agricultural Soils’
Acres USA’s Interview with Dr. Christine Jones
Centre for Food Safety’s ‘Soil Solutions to Climate Change’
Kiss the Ground’s ‘The Soil Story’ narrated by Larry Kopald
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ ‘Soils: Our ally against climate change’
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ ‘Let’s talk about soil’
Peter Byck’s ‘Soil Carbon Cowboys’
TedXGrandForks by Gabe Brown ‘Regeneration of Our Lands: A Producer’s Perspective’
Ted Talk by Allan Savory ‘How to fight desertification and reverse climate change’
The Carbon Farming Solution - A Global Toolkit of Perennial Crops and Regenerative Agriculture Practices for Climate Change Mitigation and Food Security By Eric Toensmeier