This session aims to bring together researchers and practitioners interested in the implications of an emerging soil carbon economy for advisory services and the wider AKIS.

There is high expectation as regards transformative potential of agricultural practices to sequester carbon. Carbon farming to mitigate climate change is of growing interest to policy makers at a European level (EU, 2021) through a number of mechanisms (e.g. EU Soil Observatory, Soil Mission, Horizon Europe, CAP instruments), and internationally (Fleming et al., 2019). Meanwhile natural capital mechanisms offer new revenue streams for farmers, supply chain, intermediaries and financial institutions within an emerging bioeconomy (Reed et al., 2020; Buck 2022; Black et al., 2022; EU, 2021). Specifically, rewards for farmers to use land management practices that sequester soil carbon, through policy instruments or voluntary soil carbon markets, represent a new soil carbon economy.

Although these are appealing instruments for policy makers and markets, there are multiple challenges to implementing them, including: standardising methods for monitoring, reporting and verifying the gains or losses in carbon sequestered across initiatives and organisations (Elliot et al., 2022); lack of consensus in the scientific community; and uncertainty and risk aversion in the farming and advisory community. This emphasis on soil carbon also potentially disrupts existing services, practices, markets and institutions, with new actors entering the AKIS, traditional roles and relationships redefined, and power asymmetries potentially reinforced. Meanwhile, new concepts, metrics and methodologies challenge farmer and adviser understanding and demand new skills and competencies as well as capacities in the innovation support services (Frelih-Larsen et al., 2020; Mattila et al., 2022). This carbon-centric focus also potentially negates existing knowledge of managing soil health and wider soil ecosystems services (Kennor et al., 2021).


The session will comprise a workshop and will apply participatory methods to draw on participants’ knowledge and experiences to:

  • map the scope and nature of soil carbon farming policies and soil carbon markets emerging across Europe and internationally
  • understand the opportunities and challenges these markets and policies present for farmers and advisory systems and services
  • collectively identify and prioritise a set of propositions that will provide the foundations for a research agenda for ESEE scholars


The following questions will be specifically addressed:

  • What are the implications of this emerging soil carbon economy in terms of actors (farmers, advisers, new intermediaries etc) knowledge, capacities and understanding?
  • What are the new reconfigurations of actors (old and new) and their power relations and the implications of these changes?