Assembly of European Horticultural Regions

EU projects

The programme The Humus, in Austria, is a contract solution developed for training of CO2 certificates where farmers set own measures to increase the humus content in their soils.. 


The CONSOLE project, focuses on "CONtract SOLutions for Effective and lasting delivery of agri-    environmental-climate public goods by EU agriculture and forestry".


The Humus-Program of the “Ökoregion Kaindorf” is a contract solution developed for voluntary training of CO2 certificates: based on an initial soil sampling at the start of the contract (by a certified civil engineer and accredited national laboratory), farmers set own measures to increase the humus content in their soils.


After a period of three to seven years (according to the farmers’ needs), humus content is determined again by a second soil sampling. An increase in humus content is converted into additional tons of CO2 stored in soil. Farmers receive a success fee of the 30€ per additional ton of CO2 stored, which is financed by companies who voluntarily compensate their unavoidable CO2 emissions. The amount of CO2 purchased by the companies cannot be traded. After the payment, farmers must guarantee that the increased humus content remains in place for at least five years.

This requirement is verified by a third soil sampling taken five years after the payment. Decreases in humus levels lead to partial or complete refunding of the success fee. Contracts and the carbon verifications is organized and managed by the association “Verein Ökoregion Kaindorf” while emission trading is managed by an own Ltd.


Objectives of this case studies:

  • Humus (soil organic matter) accumulation and soil carbon sequestration
  • Higher soil fertility – soil organic matter supports life in the soil, which is the basis for vital crops and reduces the need for mineral fertilizers and pesticides
  • More reliable harvests through resilient crops – living soil supports resistant plants in the face of global climate change
  • Keeping the soil in place – humus-rich soils rich are more resistant against erosion by heavy rainfalls, flooding or wind
  • Humus-rich soils store lots of water, which helps to maintain stable yields during droughts
  • Keeping the groundwater clean – soils rich in humus can fix more nitrate and prevent groundwater pollution.
  • Climate change mitigation through CO2 fixation – soil organic matter contains about 60% carbon, hence building up soil humus removes CO2 from the atmosphere and helps to mitigate global overheating.


Problem description:

The initiator of the contact solution is the association “Ökoregion Kaindorf”. The association, which consists of three municipalities, has set itself the goal of significantly reducing its CO2 emissions to achieve net CO2 neutrality as soon as possible. Human-induced climate change was the reason to act. By reducing the consumption of energy and raw materials and supplying then with renewable energy, as well as by humus formation, the way to CO2 neutrality in sought. The most far-reaching project in the “Ökoregion Kaindorf” is the Humus-Program, in which around 300 farmers throughout Austria are now participating.

For more information download the case study


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