Research and practice for climate-smart soils

State-of-the-art science in practical agro-ecosystems. That was the idea of BOKU researchers Gernot Bodner (Agronomy) and Katharina Keiblinger (Soil Research) to investigate soil functions on pioneering farms using state-of the art soil organic carbon research. An example of successful cooperation between science and practice for the Lower Austrian environmental report.

With the European Green Deal, agriculture should transform towards climate neutrality. The "sink potential" of agricultural soils might contribute to this goal. Under the keyword “Carbon Farming”, the EU is pursuing the strategy of binding CO2 from the atmosphere in the organic matter of arable soils. With an increase in soil organic carbon (SOC) between 1 and 4 per mille per year, a substantial contribution to climate protection from agriculture is expected. Since then, there has been a heated debate in science and politics as to whether this is a realistic goal.

The BOKU researchers are convinced that SOC storage potentials can best be estimated on farms where the farmer follows a management system with strong focus on soil health. It is hardly possible to go beyond the evergreen, biodiverse and minimum-tilled systems of the soil pioneers from the Boden.Leben associations ( or the regenerative farmers of the humus movement ( With this premise, the research group at the two BOKU institutes is trying to fathom the potential for SOC formation by comparing pairs of pioneer and standard fields as well as natural reference sites at 20 locations in Austria. In the variety of agricultural ecosystems, they use the latest research methods to track down the complex microbial processes in order to assess the opportunities of "carbon farming" and identify key parameters for climate-friendly management.

As the Lower Austrian Environmental Report quotes the researchers, they hope that “scientific findings will also reach the practice of farmers. And vice versa : Many farmers make enormously important observations of nature that provide new information for science or identify problems. Many farmers recognize that climate change is changing conditions. Farmers used to be seen as less dynamic and open-minded. Now there are the wildest ideas for new ways of farming”.


An incentive for basic scientific research in practice.



Priv.-Doz. DI Dr. Gernot Bodner

University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences

Institute of Agronomy

E-Mail: gernot.bodner (at)

phone: +43 1 47654 95115


Priv.-Doz. DI Dr. Katharina Keiblinger

University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences

Institute of Soil Research

E-Mail: katharina.keiblinger(at)

phone: + 43 1 47654 91141