One of the objectives of the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is to bolster environmental care and climate action and to contribute to the environmental and climate objectives of the EU. In Estonia, a SWOT analysis showed that increasing soil organic carbon is needed to contribute to the climate change mitigation.
Soil is the largest organic carbon pool in the terrestrial biosphere and acidity is one of the reasons why soil organic carbon declines. According to Agricultural Research Centre of Estonia, there is a strong correlation between soil acidity and organic carbon: in areas where the soil is acidic, the soil organic carbon content is lower. Consistent agricultural practices through liming could enhance the ability of soils to store carbon.
Considering the above mentioned a workgroup proposed that liming should be implemented as a result-based measure. The next step is to get approval from the European Commission to apply it in the upcoming CAP period.
Location of the schemewhole country
Agricultural land where before the liming:
- the pHKCl of mineral soils is up to 5.5 or
- the pHKCl of mineral soils is 5.6-6.5 and the available calcium content in the soil is less than 1500 mg/kg.
The support cannot be applied for semi-natural habitats and for the planned measure for valuable grasslands.
Duration of the schemeSince: If European Commission approves the measure will be applied in the frame of CAP 2021-2027
Until: If European Commission approves the measure will be applied in the frame of CAP 2021-2027
Objective(s) of the scheme / project
Climate change mitigation, soil quality
Which indicators are used?
pHKCl and available calcium content of the soil
Targets for the five-year long support period:
- in case of correction liming the pHKCl of the soil should increase;
- in case of maintenance liming the available calcium content must not decrease.
To measure the achievement of these goals the indicators used are pHKCl and available calcium content of the soil.
Design of scheme / project
- Two level Result Based Payments (1/0)
In the planned measure commitments should be taken for a five-year period, which ensures flexibility for farmers to lime and reduce the risk that external factors will hinder the achievement of the result. To ensure that liming has been conducted, soil samples taken before the commitment period will be compared to soil samples taken after liming. Lime is typically applied every few years to agricultural soils to keep soil pHKCl at optimum level. Both correction liming and maintenance liming should be supported. Correction liming should be performed if the pHKCl of mineral soils is below 5.5. As liming must be consistent practice, it is necessary to continue with maintenance liming which is recommended to be done once in three to five years. As the result counts, after liming the pHKCl of the acid soil shall increase. In case of maintenance liming the available calcium content must not decrease.
To avoid CO2 emissions, primarily the use of ash or a mixture of ash and limestone will be required. The use of ash would allow limiting CO2 emissions from liming, as it is predominantly calcium oxide, which does not result in additional emissions. It also contribute to the circular economy by helping to use the by-products and reduce the burden on the environment.
Experiences with result-based measures from other countries show that it is important to increase the knowledge. In the planned liming measure training courses play an important role to ensure consistency of liming and climate impact.
By which fund(s) is the scheme / project implemented?
- Agri Environmental Measures of CAP
How are the incentives (payment levels) calculated?
- Based on the costs of management actions
The costs of transport, spreading of lime fertilizer, soil sampling and the cost of lime fertilizer per hectare is taken into account.
Is there a top up in case of reaching the goals?
How are participating farmers supervised/advised?
The applicant must take part in a compulsory training about liming during the first commitment year.
Ministry of Rural Affairs