St Petersburg University Professor: carbon polygons are verified sites for accounting for carbon units in various natural zones

Sequestration and stabilisation of soil carbon and its role in the agroecosystem and in the fight against climate change have been discussed at the 7th International Scientific and Practical Conference ‘Climate, Soil Fertility, Agrotechnologies’. The conference was held as part of the "Petersburg Dialogue".

Evgeny Abakumov, Professor and Head in the Department of Applied Ecology at St Petersburg University, took part in the conference. He made a presentation "Depositing capacity of soils of various natural zones in relation to carbon compounds".

In his speech, Professor Abakumov emphasised the importance of developing carbon polygons in Russia. Carbon polygons are areas with a reference ecosystem. They are created by universities and research organisations to implement measures to control climate-active gases and to conduct studies in the field of ecology and biogeochemistry. Among them are: the development and adaptation of ground-based technologies for field and forest agrochemical control of soils and respiration of greenhouse gases; and technologies for remote accounting of aboveground and underground phytomass, rhizosphere, agrochemical control of soils to name but a few.

‘Carbon polygons contribute to the parametrisation of ecosystem services. These services are understood as: a space for economic activity; ensuring the stability of landscapes; regulation of the processes of pollution and self-purification of the natural environment; sustainable conservation of elements of the biogeochemical cycle; stabilisation of mothballed pools of organic carbon; and regulation of land hydrology on a global and regional scale,’ said Evgeny Abakumov in his report.

Professor Abakumov clarified that the soil is not the largest, but the most significant part of the carbon polygon. ‘The soil cover of Russia is extremely diverse. Yet carbon stocks in soils of various types vary greatly. Additionally, soil carbon is at least five fractions of soil organic compounds that we are intensively losing,’ he added.

Evgeny Abakumov also noted that among the urgent tasks that scientists are currently solving are: the degree of stabilisation of organic matter; the choice between indirect (cheap and inaccurate) or direct (expensive) method for determining carbon; and studying the depth and fractional selection, spatial heterogeneity, morphological, and chemical forms of humus.

A pilot project to develop test sites in Russian regions for the development and testing of carbon balance control technologies was launched by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation in 2021.

The international scientific and practical conference "Climate, Soil Fertility, Agrotechnologies" is held on the initiative of the Petersburg Dialogue Russian-German public forum and the non-profit partnership "National Movement for Sustainable Agriculture" with the support of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation and the participation of the World-Class Research and Educational Centre "Engineering of the Future".

The conference is held annually. It is a platform for an open international dialogue in the agricultural sector to bring together leading Russian and foreign scientists and practitioners, and business and government representatives.