Experts dig deep to unlock soil secrets

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THE amount of carbon ‘locked in’ the soil at Wallington is providing climate change experts with new information about how agricultural land could cut greenhouse gas emissions, a recent study has revealed.

After a three-year study carried out by Durham University into the levels of carbon contained within the different parts of the 5,500 hectare National Trust estate, including its historical parkland, tenant farms and woodland, it was revealed that an estimated 1,265,474 tonnes of carbon is contained within its soils.

The National Trust is now working with Natural England and the University of Hertfordshire to improve the future land management at Wallington through the development of a ‘Land Carbon Management Plan’ for each farm on the estate.

Durham University PhD student Madeleine Bell, who worked for three years on the project, said: “The study has shown there is a massive amount of carbon stored at Wallington and highlights how important it is to manage the land well.

“The soils at Wallington are currently estimated to be neither a major source nor sink of carbon.

“The main reason is that there have been no big land-use changes in recent years, meaning the soil carbon is in a state of equilibrium, but it is a balance that can so easily be affected by the way we use the land.”

Celia Robbins, from the National Trust’s Wallington Carbon Footprint Project, said: “Using Madeleine’s data and working in partnership with Natural England and Wallington’s tenant farmers, we now have the chance to improve and preserve the landscape so it has a net benefit for climate change while supporting farms and protecting the environment.”