A plough to improve carbon storage

With farmers under increasing pressure to improve practices to offset global warming, LEMKEN has developed a plough that aims for better soil health and fertility.

A plough to improve carbon storage
The LEMKEN farming plough aims to secure the long-term storage of carbon in the soil.
Photo: Supplied
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LEMKEN has developed the Carbon Farming Plough in collaboration with the Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF).

ZALF’s work on the yield and climate effects of partial deep tillage is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture. LEMKEN will use this research to create an implement for carbon enrichment in arable soils.

The plough is intended to be used for meliorative tillage (to break up compaction and improve the soil as a result). The implement features bodies that plough at alternating depths to create wells below the tillage level in every other furrow, which are then filled with humus-rich topsoil.

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Analyses of trials conducted by ZALF have shown that more than half of the humus introduced in this manner is retained to secure the long-term storage of carbon in the soil.

Better soil
The lower soil layers, which have little humus, are ploughed up in the process, and mixed with the topsoil. This forms new humus-rich topsoil within a matter of only a few years, as carbon is introduced from crops.

The humus content of soils tilled in this manner increases, and soil fertility improves. At the same time, the sustainable soil improvement creates a new business model in the form of carbon farming.

Breaking up compacted soils, while also introducing humus-rich topsoil into wells, enables plant roots to grow into deeper soil levels and access the water and nutrients retained there. This can increase yields by up to 5% as early as the first year. This effect was established in the 1960s and again in the 1980s, and has been confirmed by recent trials conducted by ZALF.

The process can be repeated diagonally to the main direction of work after five to 10 years.
In addition to the above benefits, the carbon farming technology opens up new income streams for farmers in the form of trade in carbon dioxide certificates.

A potential future tax on carbon dioxide emissions is therefore avoided, and the competitiveness of farms is improved.

When paired with an iQblue connect module, the Carbon Farming Plough will be capable of collecting site-specific work data and precisely documenting the depth and position of the wells created. The new plough will be available to purchase from mid-2024.

Visit lemken.com.