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Soil: retaining Co2 to combat climate change

A project of Creaf and Jean Leon winery

Creaf (Center de Recerca Ecològica i Aplicacions Forestals) is working together with the Jean Leon wineries, producers of the Familia Torres wine brand, to study the ability of the soil of the vineyards to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (Co2) and fight the climate crisis. Through a three-year study in an organic Jean Leon vineyard in the region of Catalonia (Spain), the project aims to establish which types of crops allow the soil to store the most carbon. The project started this winter with the sowing of four different species of grasses and legumes around the vines and between the rows on half a hectare of land. Creaf's role is to perform the sampling and analysis necessary to determine the amount of carbon present in the soil before and after the annual sowing of cover crops. Jean Leon, on the other hand, will take care of the agricultural work related to the sowing and management of the vineyard.

"Using the soil from vineyards to store Co2 is a great opportunity to reduce the concentration of gases in the atmosphere", says Jordi Sardans, Creaf researcher and study coordinator. “Furthermore, this solution is not limited to viticulture; it can be applied to any type of crop and also has beneficial effects on soil quality”, he continues. "In addition to our organic viticulture at Jean Leon, all the Familia Torres wineries are working to reduce the CO2 emissions from our business", notes Mireia Torres, Jean Leon's general manager. The study is in synergy with Coppereplace, a project of the European Interreg Sudoe program on which Jean Leon and Familia Torres are working with the University of Lleida to test cover crops and vegetable mulch, as well as to experiment alternatives to copper, with the ultimate goal to promote sustainability and biodiversity.

Various studies have shown that the soil of cultivated land can be used to store Co2 organically, in order to slow down the increase in gas levels and, consequently, mitigate climate change. Scientists calculate that Earth's soil currently contains three times more carbon than all of the planet's vegetation and double what is in the atmosphere. In the specific case of vineyards, the main practices through which carbon is stored in the soil are: the application of organic compost, the use of plants (sown or self-sown) as ground cover and the addition of green pruning waste in the ground.

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EFA News - European Food Agency