News 26.4.2022

Carbon sequestration of agricultural fields can now be monitored and predicted in real-time

Field Observatory makes it possible to observe near real-time information and forecasts on how farming affects the carbon balance of experimental fields and the growth of plants. The observatory illustrates modern methods to monitor and observe carbon sequestration.
Measuring instrumentation at Qvidja. Photo: Laura Heimsch.

This scientific paper presents the Field Observatory service developed in collaboration with researchers, farmers, businesses, and other stakeholders. The authors are from the Finnish Meteorological Institute, Häme University of Applied Sciences, the Finnish Environment Institute, the Baltic Sea Action Group, and the Universities of Helsinki and Amsterdam.

Field Observatory presents measurements of soil and vegetation processes and calculates carbon flows and carbon storages in near real-time. It evaluates the effects of farming practices on yields, biomass, and carbon sequestration. In one experimental field, Field Observatory shows a 15-day grass yield and carbon balance forecast that is  updated daily. It is one of the first forecasts of this kind in the world.

Information on the effects of farming methods and the amount and persistence of carbon in the soil are needed to select the best farming practices for different plants, soil, and climate conditions. With help of this information, it is possible to evaluate the effects of farming practices and to develop cost-effective methods to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The core of Field Observatory is the developed method to monitor and predict the processes and carbon balance of the fields. The method combines field measurements, automatic measurement technologies, weather data, satellite measurements, and modelling in the calculation system. Field Observatory includes now three intensive research fields operated by the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the University of Helsinki. In addition, there are 20 pilot farms taking part in Carbon Action work where carbon farming practices are tested in different parts of Finland over a five-year period. New farms  are currently being added.

Field Observatory can be examined online and on mobile devices. In the future, this kind of service can function as a decision-making support for farmers as it allows them to monitor the effects of farming methods on their fields. Field Observatory illustrates methods for calculating carbon and making greenhouse gas inventories in the future.

Further information:

Olli Nevalainen, Researcher, Finnish Meteorological Institute, +358 50 4634 885,

Åsa Stam, Research Coordinator, Finnish Meteorological Institute, +358 50 531 3477,

Jari Liski, Scientific Director, Finnish Meteorological Institute, +358 40 7485 088,

Nevalainen, O., Niemitalo, O., Fer, I., Juntunen, A., Mattila, T., Koskela, O., Kukkamäki, J., Höckerstedt, L., Mäkelä, L., Jarva, P., Heimsch, L., Vekuri, H., Kulmala, L., Stam, Å., Kuusela, O., Gerin, S., Viskari, T., Vira, J., Hyväluoma, J., Tuovinen, J.-P., Lohila, A., Laurila, T., Heinonsalo, J., Aalto, T., Kunttu, I., and Liski, J. 2022. Towards agricultural soil carbon monitoring, reporting, and verification through the Field Observatory Network (FiON), Geoscientific Instrumentation, Methods and Data Systems, 11: 93–109.

Scientific article is available on Geoscientific Instrumentation, Methods and Data Systems.

Carbon farmingCarbon sequestrationCarbon sinkScience-news