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Conference "Climate Change - Can soil make a difference" organised by DG environment in Brussels, 12 June 2008

On 12th June 2008, the Environment Directorate-General of the European Commission hosted a



Consultation workshop on 25 June 2008, Brussels Eurocities

In the light of the recent developments in climate change related policies, the workshop "



Balancing costs: strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture

Agriculture contributes significantly to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in many EU countries and



The PICCMAT Final symposium: Addressing the climate challenge - what can agriculture do? Ideas from Europe and beyond, hold on Tuesday 28 October 2008, raised an important interest among stakeholders and policy makers. Almost 90 participants followed the 15 presentations given during the day, and exchanged points of view and experiences of CC mitigation practices and strategies in agriculture.

Access to the conference webpage here


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Agriculture is one of the most climate-dependant human activity. It is very sensitive to climatic variations and has to permanently adapt its practices to ensure a sufficient, good quality food production.
Climate change is one of the major environmental concerns of this starting 21st century, and initiatives addressing this issue are rising everywhere. On the one hand, a large number of actions are undertaken to mitigate climate change, by reducing the Green House Gases (GHG) emissions and by trying to capture GHG by various means. On the other hand, climate change being already a matter of fact, actions to adapt to the new, present and future, climatic conditions are implemented.

As any other human activity, agriculture is concerned by these two priorities:

  • agriculture must play a role in climate change mitigation, by i. reducing its GHGs emission, ii. reducing its indirect emissions (e.g. through the use of fertilizers) and iii. storing carbon into soils (use soils as a CO2 sink);
  • agriculture must adapt to the new climatic conditions (increased temperatures, drought, increased climatic variations, etc.) in order to ensure world populations a sufficient food supply.


The aim of this web-site is to inform stakeholders and the general public on climate change and agriculture, on the potential actions to undertake, and to sensitize on the issues raised by this new challenge.


Agricultural practices presents a complete description of the mitigation effect of a number of agricultural practices on climate change.


Database offers more than 200 literature references related to climate change mitigation techniques in agriculture (GHG emissions reduction and carbon storage techniques). The references are mainly European, including Eastern Europe, but also world-wide.


Case studies present a series of field analysis of the potential implementation by farmers of certain mitigating practices, in six European countries; the database


Policies will suggest a series of recommendations to include climate change issues into existing policies, and provide an overview of existing regulations affecting climate change issues. A large consultation on policiy recommendations will also be launched at the beginning of 2008.


Dissemination sumarizes the dissemination actions undertaken to mainstream climate change issues into the agricultural sector and to inform about the role of agriculture in climate change challenges.


Adaptation will inform on the adapation strategy in agriculture, and its challenges as regard to mitigation.


Contacts provides the names and coordinates of institutions, partners, organisations working on agriculture and climate change.

Climate change mitigation in agriculture: a European concern

Climate change is presently a major concern for citizens and policy-makers across Europe. In 2004, the EU-25 agriculture has produced around 460 million tons of CO2 equivalent, representing 9% of total GHG emissions, of which more than 5% is nitrous oxide (N2O) and nearly 4% is methane (CH4). If CO2 emissions have therefore a low impact, the agricultural sector was responsible for nearly 50% of the EU`s total methane emissions in 2004. These emissions come mainly from livestock enteric fermentation and manure storage. The same year, agriculture has emitted nearly 67% of the EU`s total N2O emissions, excluding the fertilisers industry emissions. Emissions of nitrous oxide from agricultural soils are mainly caused by the application of mineral and organic nitrogen fertilisers and animal manure (88%), and by manure management (12%). N2O emissions from agricultural soils accounted for nearly 5% of total EU GHG emissions in 2004, which make it the fifth largest emitting sector for all greenhouse gases.


There is a need to analyse agricultural practices in terms of mitigation potential in order to provide farmers with advices and incentives on the best land management options as regard to climate change. The European Commission has therefore initiated a research project called PICCMAT (Policy Incentives for Climate Change Mitigation Agricultural Techniques) with the objectives to identify the most cost-efficient farming practices that reduce GHG emissions and to suggest policy instruments to support the necessary changes in land management.



One of the priorities of the Rural Development Strategy 2007-2013 is to support actions to mitigate climate change. This includes actions favouring major changes in land use, such as a switch to growing biomass crops, afforestation or significant changes in livestock production approaches. However, also less substantial changes to existing agricultural practices towards optimised land management can have a positive climate change mitigating effect, while also being beneficial towards a good soil condition. This include for example zero- or reduced-tillage techniques, use of deep-rooting crops, different types of set-aside, conversion of arable to grassland including field strips, improved rotations, winter cover, maintenance of terraces etc.


PICCMAT is a FP6 project (6th framework programme of the Research DG) co-financed by the European Commission. This Specific Support Action (SSA) is part of the Scientific Support to Policies priority aiming to:

  • Assess the effectiveness (feasibility and cost efficiency) for climate change mitigation of a range of possible changes to land management practices;
  • Make recommendations on possible RDR funding or cross-compliance to Good Agricultural and Environmental Conditions;
  • Disseminate this information to Policy makers, research community, stakeholders and the general public.


Project outlook

Duration: 2 years, starting in January 2007.


Team: ten specialised organisations covering 10 European countries:

  • Baastel sprl - Belgium, France
  • University of Aberdeen (Department of Plant and Soil Science) - UK
  • Alterra - The Netherlands
  • Ecologic (Institute for international and European Environmental Policy) - Germany
  • University of Copenhagen (Department of agricultural sciences) - Denmark
  • University of Warsaw (Departement of environmental protection) - Poland
  • Nikola Poushkarov Institute of Soil Science - Bulgaria
  • University of Florence (Department of Agronomy and Land Management) - Italy
  • Universidad politecnica de Madrid (Department of Agricultural Economics and Social Sciences) - Spain
  • Faculty of Agricultural Sciences (University of Aarhus) - Denmark


Budget: total budget is 480 000EUR over the two years



WP1 Data collection and qualitative analysis

  • To synthesise the existing GHG mitigation techniques in agriculture from the abundant scientific literature and on-going research teams results;
  • To select, describe and analyse the most relevant mitigation techniques for further field testing, considering their technical advantages, their applicability into relevant agricultural production systems, their potential acceptance by farmers and their cost-efficiency.


WP2 Feasibility and cost efficiency assessment

  • To evaluate the cost-effectiveness and feasibility of selected agricultural practices through case-studies;
  • To analyse the market penetration potential of selected techniques;
  • To quantify the global impact on EU-25 territory.


WP3 Policy recommendations

  • To study the possible incentives and funding under the CAP including the agri-environmental part of the Rural Development Regulation for 2007-2013 and the Cross Compliance requirements under the Regulation (EC) No. 1782/2003;
  • To provide recommendations and background information for policy makers.


WP4 Dissemination of results and symposium

  • To disseminate the project results to policy makers, scientific community, stakeholders and the general public within the EU-27.


WP5 Project management


  • To ensure that support activities are well coordinated (no overlapping of work), and well done (deliverables provided on time, and with a sufficient quality),
  • To ensure that EC financial & administrative procedures are respected and that cost statements are provided on time;
  • To analyse synergies that can be done with other projects;
  • To ensure the link between the partners, and between the EC and the project consortium.


To download a pdf version of PICCMAT short presentation click here

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