Extensive Research Study Examines Enhanced Soil Carbon Farming as a Climate Solution

With a roster of Founding Partners that includes PepsiCo, McDonald’s USA and most recently, The Nature Conservancy, AgMission™, a global collaboration to develop and implement climate-smart farming solutions, announced that it will support The Ohio State University’s (OSU) study on the potential of soil management practices to mitigate climate change.

Dr. Rattan Lal, a distinguished university professor of soil science and director of OSU’s College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Rattan Lal Center for Carbon Management and Sequestration, will chair the study, “Enhanced Soil Carbon Farming as a Climate Solution.” 

The disruption by climate change is the most urgent challenge to global food systems and agriculture,” said Allison Thomson, AgMission program director. “Enhancing soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks on croplands, grasslands and rangelands is an important strategy that can help mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improve land and production system resiliency at the same time. Allison Thomson
AgMission Program Director

 Carbon farming optimizes carbon capture by implementing practices that are known to improve the rate at which carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere and stored in plant material or soil organic matter.

Current knowledge on carbon farming is primarily based either on simulation modelling or on data from a limited number of field experiments. Furthermore, knowledge gaps exist on how projected climate extremes will impact SOC sequestration, crop productivity, agricultural GHG emissions and soil health across diverse landscapes. 

The study is focusing on field research in specific geographies of the United States: the Midwest, the Plains, the West and the southeastern US. The Ohio State University researchers and collaborating institutions are collecting on-farm data from croplands, grasslands and rangelands. On-farm research offers the opportunity to study the impacts on SOC from fully implemented systems in terms of scale, adoption of management approaches and constraints faced by farm managers, growers and ranchers.

The resulting output will be anonymized on-farm data from SOC-enhancing practices using a process that calculates a unique baseline for different geographies. 

“By increasing carbon sequestration on depleted and degraded agricultural lands, we can improve our soil and food system while restoring the environment,” said Dr. Lal, the principal investigator of this project and 2020 World Food Prize awardee for his decades of research on how soil health impacts crop productivity. “This project will provide the needed tools and data to help farms across the United States and around the world reach their full potential as a carbon sink and be part of the solution to combatting climate change and advancing the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN.”

The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) and the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO) established AgMission to unlock agriculture’s potential to reduce GHG emissions. Agricultural research and data are critical to this solution, and AgMission’s strategy envisions solutions that harness data and farmer insights to power research that accelerates adoption of climate-smart practices.

“As a core partner of AgMission, we are pleased to support such important research”, said WFO Secretary General Arianna Giuliodori. “What is needed is to ensure the results from this research are viable to the farmers’ community across different geographies, and scalable or replicable in different farming systems.”

Through FFAR, AgMission is awarding $5 million to The Ohio State University to conduct this research, which is being matched by additional funders for a $15 million project investment. Co-sponsors and collaborators of this study include Bayer U.S. – Crop Science, Corteva, Cotton Incorporated, FONTAGRO, Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, Michigan State University, Microsoft, Ohio Corn & Wheat, Ohio Soybean Council, Kansas Corn, Kansas State University, National Sorghum Producers, Sandia National Laboratories, The Ohio State University, United Sorghum Checkoff Program, Utah Department of Agriculture & Food, Utah State University, the U.S. Geological Survey and the USDA Agricultural Research Service.

This project will generate much needed knowledge on how to strengthen the adoption of SOC-enhancing practices by farmers and ranchers, and how to increase the recognition of the importance of those practices by the private sector, policy makers and the general public.



The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) and the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO) established AgMission, a global collaboration of farmers, ranchers and scientists mobilizing data and partnering together to accelerate collaboration, develop science-based solutions and expand innovation and research that powers adaptation and adoption of climate­-smart solutions. AgMission is empowering the agriculture sector become net negative for greenhouse gas emissions. To learn more visit agmission.org.