How the UK’s first soil carbon mapping service works

The UK’s first carbon mapping service, capable of providing an accurate baseline measure of soil carbon levels, is now available to farmers.

The technology, known as Terramap Carbon, will gauge the level of both organic and active carbon in soils, to help drive forward farm productivity by highlighting the most efficient method to reduce a farm’s carbon emissions.


With the NFU’s target of achieving net-zero carbon by 2040, growers are under increasing pressure to monitor their carbon footprint.


This novel technology, developed by agronomy firm Hutchinsons, aims to provide a platform that growers can use to work towards this ambition.


Baseline measure


Until now there has been no accurate means of measuring carbon in the soil.

“Unless you can measure carbon, there is no way it can be managed,” says Matt Ward, Hutchinsons services manager.


“How are growers meant to achieve net zero if they don’t know where they are starting from?” he says.


The technology, which accurately and effectively records soil carbon levels, creates the foundations required to calculate a carbon footprint – a beneficial tool to measuring farm efficiency and profitability.


Cost of the carbon scanning service

The Terramap Carbon scanning service is now available to growers at a cost of £35/ha, suggested for use once every five years.

Terramap Carbon is available as a standard or premium service, which forms part of the Omnia suite, and users don’t have to be a Hutchinson’s customer for its use.

The standard service maps the total organic carbon in terms of percentage carbon and tonnes/ha, 17 micronutrients, soil type, and pH.

The premium service maps both total organic and active carbon percentage and tonnes/ha – that is the percentage of carbon that’s active in the soil, as well as cation exchange and a wider range of micronutrients.


The carbon capture service hopes to drive productivity forwards by identifying specific scenarios so growers can reduce their carbon footprint with the use of more efficient fertilisers, different technologies, better soil carbon management and energy use.


Terramap tech


The Terramap technology consists of a unique infield mapping system that collects data by scanning a lightweight, all-terrain vehicle, kitted out with a soil-sampling sensor.


Gamma-ray detection technology then measures four naturally emitted isotopes to deliver resolutions over 800 points/ha.


Since the launch of the technology for use in soil nutrient mapping back in 2018, an area of more than 35,000ha has been scanned.


The technology has since been updated to establish the new carbon tool, which Mr Ward believes will help reform soil management.


Once the carbon levels are recorded, a profile can be created using the company’s Omnia Farm Carbon Toolkit, which aligns field carbon measures to a range of machinery operation costs.


Source: Farmers Weekly