What is INAR RI Agriculture?

INAR RI Agriculture is the first long-term integrated infrastructure network in Finland focusing on the agricultural soil – crop – atmosphere interactions to quantify climate and air quality impacts and mitigation potential of northern agricultural systems.

The consortium brings together top expertise and infrastructures and establishes long-term field measurement stations and a state-of-the-art stable isotope laboratory to quantify the emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) and other reactive carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) gases from arable soils, and to facilitate process studies on C and N cycling in arable soils.

INAR RI Agriculture has very large utilization potential by a broad range of different disciplines. At INAR RI Agriculture we aim to establish an internationally recognized entity that contributes actively to high-impact scientific articles and statements on the carbon sequestration and environmental impacts of GHGs and reactive N and C in climate-smart northern agriculture.

Urgent need of accurate, long-term measurements of agricultural soil-crop-atmosphere interactions

The targets of Paris climate agreement cannot be reached by reductions of fossil emission alone, but effective ways to mitigate climate change in the land-use sector including agricultural soils are critically needed. The 4-per-mil initiative, launched by the French government during the Paris climate conference, proposes that an increase in soil C stock on agricultural land globally by 0.4% per year would halt the current growth of the atmospheric CO2 concentration. Since agricultural ecosystems are intensively managed and cover increasing land areas, innovative climate-smart land management has a high potential for increasing soil C sequestration and reducing GHG emissions to mitigate climate change. Sequestration of C in soil also improves soil resilience and its ability to produce food and other services sustainably under varying climatic conditions.

In the view of the bioeconomy strategy drafted by Finland, the role of agriculture in Finland is expected to grow as there is intense pressure to utilize all available bioresources to achieve more than 50% of renewables share in the total energy consumption by 2030. Thus, there is a need for a versatile experimental approach addressing several major issues relevant to Nordic agriculture under changing climatic conditions – e.g. innovative crop sequences to produce biomass (food, feed, other purposes), to accelerate soil C sequestration, and to enhance year-round crop cover. 

In addition to mitigating climate change, the management of agricultural ecosystems has a central role in combating local air quality. Excessive N fertilization leads to losses of fertilizer N to the atmosphere in the forms of greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O) and other reactive N (NH3, HONO, NO) and C (volatile organic compounds, VOCs) species. New measures to simultaneously minimize GHG and reactive N and C emissions, and to increase soil C sinks and storages are urgently needed. 

Utilization potential of the infrastructure

INAR RI Agriculture has very large utilization potential by broad range of different disciplines as it aims at establishing an internationally recognized entity, contributing actively to high impact scientific articles and statements on the carbon sequestration and environmental impacts of GHGs and reactive N and C in climate-smart northern agriculture. We provide high quality services to all interested scientific and other stakeholders and form an interdisciplinary consortium bringing together scientists from agricultural, soil, environmental, and atmospheric sciences for in-depth understanding of the involved phenomena. INAR Agri attracts scientists from various disciplines from molecular biology to global scale modelling, economics and policy research, to utilize the sites and data, and to acquire additional joint funding for specific research questions on climate and air quality in agroecosystems. INAR RI Agriculture will also provide much needed empirical background data for development of carbon markets, life cycle assessment of produced food as well as for research on incorporating the economic viability and adaptation policy aspects into the assessment of existing and future risks of bioeconomy, related to climate change and food security. Through the partnership and services provided together with ICOS and AnaEE, the large international user groups are addressed widely and openly, following the EU rules and instructions of access and governance. Also local farmers who already are interested in novel and innovative ways for climate-smart agriculture can largely benefit from the science done in INAR Agri.