The two ecosystem stations in Westmalle are located at the same cropland about 20 km northeast of the city of Antwerp. The Abdij der Trappisten van Westmalle farms the land of 25 ha. The Westmalle station focusses on the effectiveness of Carbon Farming management. The land is divided into two parts, which will be managed differently as from 2024. By establishing two distinct ICOS stations on opposing sides of the land, the evaluation of the impact of Carbon Farming in comparison to traditional farming concerning greenhouse gas emissions, as well as carbon and water uptake, is intended.
The ICOS site located in Westmalle is intended to be utilized as one of the Lighthouses in the recent EU Mission project, "A Soil Deal for Europe". This mission is oriented toward the facilitation of the transition to healthy soils, with a focus on objectives such as the preservation of soil organic carbon stocks, the enhancement of soil structure, and the promotion of biodiversity.
In Westmalle, carbon farming techniques will be assessed, with close collaboration between researchers and land managers to ensure that practical needs identified in the field are addressed in our research. The aim is to test solutions and demonstrate their value in real-life conditions, establishing good practices that can inspire the adoption of sustainable land management approaches by other practitioners.
Tim De Meulder (Tim.Demeulder@uantwerpen.be