Can a Maine-based project help farmers worldwide fight climate change by storing more carbon in their soil?

I recently reported on an applied research initiative at Maine’s Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture and the Environment that has the potential to help save the world.

Some 14 percent of human greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture, and reducing that figure will be essential to mitigating climate change. One way to do that would be to help farmers have healthier, more carbon-rich soil, as that would in effect suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, while boosting farm yields, revenues, and resiliency to flooding and drought. As I reported in the Portland Press Herald, doing that is ultimately a matter of good, very high resolution data, which is hard for smaller farmers to get in an affordable, integrated fashion.

The OpenTEAM initiative — a partnership between the Center, Stonyfield Organic, the US Department of Agriculture, and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research aims to change all that via the field testing of new hardware, software, and data sharing systems.

Maine is suddenly at the forefront of efforts to confront climate change, with statutory requirements in place to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent and become carbon neutral by mid-century.