Humus build-up in Frisian agricultural soils, towards a certificate trading scheme

Prof. Emiel Elferink1

1Van Hall Larenstein, Leeuwarden, Netherlands

Soil is the most important resource for agriculture. A healthy soil with a sufficient supply of organic matter is of great importance for the agricultural sector. In recent decades, soil quality in Friesland is under pressure and poses a threat to the production capacity of the  Frisian agricultural sector.

Therefore, in 2018 Friesland, a province in the Netherlands, decided to implement a certificate-trading scheme, based on the ‘Kaindorf model’ in Austria. Companies, institutions and individuals who want to compensate for their (non-avoidable) CO2 because they want to become climate neutral can purchase certificates. The revenues are used to pay farmers a fee for capturing CO2 in their plots for increased humus. Compensating for their additional costs.

25 farmers joined in 2019 the project and started working actively to increase their SOM content of their soils. Friesland differs from the Kaindorf region with regard to: soil type, management options, availability and quality of biomass and national legislation.

We present the Frisian case:

  • Frisian situation
  • research approach
  • first results (soil samples participating farmers)

The Frisian approach will be compared to the Kaindorf model with regard to soil parameters: increase in SOM (time, quality), water retention, structure biological activity, and visual observations.


Dr. Emiel Elferink is an applied research professor ‘Sustainable Soil Management’ at the applied university Van Hall Larenstein in Leeuwarden (NL). He leads a research group that focuses on the relation between agriculture management, biobased economy and healthy soila. Especially soil biology, soil ecology and soil organic matter in relation to climate change are leading research topics. The goal is to come to practical solutions for farmers, companies and landowners that contribute to a more sustainable soil management. Furthermore he is responsible for the knowledge centre and consortium on healthy soils

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