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Dutch farmers in Alblasserwaard first to sell CO2 credits

21 juli 2022

For the first time, two Dutch farmers have been given the go-ahead to sell the CO2 emissions they have avoided through use of pump-driven water infiltration. Peatland farmers Ad van Rees and Nico van der Ham, both based in the Alblasserwaard area of the Netherlands, use pump-driven water infiltration to set the groundwater level on their own land and in doing so drastically reduce CO2 emissions. They can then sell the avoided CO2 emissions in the form of carbon credits to companies that wish to offset their emissions. The proceeds will be used to help finance more sustainable soil management at their farms. The farmers worked together with the Nature and Environment Federation of South Holland (Natuur en Milieufederatie Zuid-Holland or NMZH) to submit the project plans to the National Carbon Market Foundation (Stichting Nationale Koolstofmarkt).

CO2 emissions caused by subsidence

Within the Green Circle Cheese and Soil Subsidence the farmers are collaborating to come up with solutions that reduce subsidence and to identify new revenue models for agriculture of the future. This is urgently needed as subsidence in peatlands is responsible for about 2.8% of CO2 emissions in the Netherlands. The farmers use a pumping system to maintain the groundwater at the agreed level. This prevents the groundwater from dropping below the agreed level and the peat drying out too much, which in turn causes subsidence and releases CO2. This is especially important during periods of drought.


Valuta voor Veen

The method for selling avoided CO2 emissions as carbon credits is laid down in the ‘Valuta voor Veen (Currency for Peat)’ initiative developed by the Nature and Environment Federations. 

Alex Ouwehand, director of the Nature and Environment Federation of South Holland, tells us more: “The application of pump-driven water infiltration at Ad and Nico’s farms is the first test case. We see a great deal of potential for Currency for Peat, but work is still needed to better align the initiative with practice in order to create a sound revenue model. For example by using a simpler monitoring method”.

Barbara Baarsma, CEO Rabobank Carbon Bank, also sees opportunities here: “As a partner in the Green Circle Cheese and Soil Subsidence we are actively involved in the project that yields these credits. Further research and upscaling are required but the approach is encouraging. Rabobank will sell the first credits to help Ad and Nico and later other farmers to become more sustainable.”


RIVM: viable method

Recent research by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) shows that pump-driven water infiltration is a viable method for a large portion of the Alblasserwaard-Vijfheerenlanden peatland area. According to the RIVM, application of this technique to 4,000 of the 15,000 hectares of land in total will reduce CO2 emissions by 50 to 75 percent. The approval of the National Carbon Market Foundation – which for the first time has granted farmers permission to sell CO2 credits based on water infiltration – is likewise significant.


Photo: Cees van den Bos (left), project leader revenue models Green Circles Cheese and Soil Subsidence, and peatland farmer Ad van Rees.