The Scottish Farmer reported how the system of spreading volcanic basalt on agricultural land can enhance the soil following a site visit last year.

Since then, Jennifer Brodie of Scotland-based carbon capture business UNDO attended the recent Real Oxford Farming Conference and gave her thoughts on the event.

The firm, UNDO, spreads basalt, a quarrying by-product containing a wide range of nutrients including potassium, calcium, and potassium on fields. It also has an alkalising effect on soil, improving pH over time, and making nutrients, such as phosphate, more available to plants, and is suitable for all farming types and is accredited by a number of organic farming organisations.

READ MORE | Carbon capturing rock in innovative agri-scheme comes to Scotland

As the Regenerative Farming movement continues to pick up pace, there is a concern in the agricultural sector about farmland being sacrificed to grow carbon-capturing trees in the fight against climate change. UNDO is a British carbon dioxide removal company that supports farming by spreading nutrient-rich silicate rock on farmland, promoting regenerative farming principles.

UNDO supplies farmers with the soil-enhancing rock for free. The company can do this as it generates and sells high-quality carbon removal credits. One Scottish farmer, John Logan of Blairmains, says “Spreading crushed basalt on our fields is good for the soil quality and good for the livestock that grazes here, which is what every farmer wants. It also means that less costly products are needed to maintain the health and pH of our soil. It’s free and easy to do as UNDO organise the spreading for us and we’re already reaping the rewards.”

READ MORE | Council enhances soil quality and fights carbon with basalt

UNDO believes that it’s entirely possible to combat our warming planet through agricultural practice without significantly changing land use. In January this year, UNDO again attended the Oxford Real Farming Conference (ORFC) to take the pulse of how farmers are feeling on this topic and more.

The ORFC, a grassroots response to the simultaneously held and mainstream Oxford Farming Conference, is an annual assembly organised by farmers for farmers and now claims to be the biggest event of its kind in the world. Sessions this year focussed on the transition in England from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI), the role of carbon capture incentives and their impact on farming, and soil health.

UNDO works closely with UK farmers to enhance their soils through the spreading of crushed basalt and is highly aware of the level of education and trust it takes to implement new farming practices. For several generations, agricultural communities have been encouraged to use NPK fertilisers, pesticides, and herbicides. But now a reduction in soil health, increasingly thin margins, and the rapid rise of fertiliser and chemicals are encouraging a change towards regenerative methods. Changing policies and opportunities to profit from these methods should be welcomed.

With the paradigm shift to SFI from CAP, farmers are financially incentivised to implement conservation practices instead of receiving area-based subsidies. Many of these conservation practices align with the values of the Oxford Real Farming Conference: assessing and testing soil, minimising the use of pesticides and herbicides, and choosing alternative soil amendments like UNDO’s basalt which helps boost pest resistance and stabilises soil pH.

The ORFC also covered the complicated minefield that is the carbon market and warned delegates of being taken advantage of whilst ‘farming carbon.’ Regenerative conservation practices, however, improve the holistic nature of land and soils. Adopting these solutions often saves farmers money. Over time, this can translate to fewer herbicides, pesticides, and fertilisers.

As highlighted at ORFC, the agri-ecological movement is not out to get traditional farming, but a development designed to be integrated into rural communities to give a higher priority to looking after our soils. By being equally applicable and available to mainstream farming, it strives to keep the farming mission of food production alive for future generations.