The Tamar Valley AONB, together with the National Association of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (NAAONB), has been successful in securing funding to conduct tests and trials to help shape the development of agricultural policy and payments to farmers. The future of the Basic Farm Payment and Agri-environment schemes will be replaced with the Environment Land Management System (ELMS).
The Test and Trial project is focused on Soil Organic Carbon (SOC). Soil Carbon is a good indicator of soil health, biological activity within the soil and is reflective of biodiversity above ground. As such, higher levels of soil organic matter can be linked to water quality, drought and flood resilience, as well as sinking and sequestering Carbon from the atmosphere. Therefore there is a strong argument that a payment directly related to Soil Organic Carbon can be seen as delivering public goods.
From an agricultural and business perspective, healthy soils with increasing soil organic matter levels can also be related to consistent sustainable agricultural productivity. The test and trial is therefore looking to road test new to market technology, namely soil scanners. We are seeking to see if they are reliable, accurate and consistent in how they measure the level and amount of soil Carbon. If the technology can deliver good results, it opens up a new revenue options for farmers to be rewarded in a very different way.