Changes In Soil Sink On Canadian Farmland And The Impact On Emissions Reporting

May 5, 2022 | Education & Outreach, Greenhouse Gas Markets


Understanding the data behind greenhouse gas (GHG) policy is key to seeing issues facing GHG emissions and storing soil carbon.

The work farms have been doing through practices like one pass farming is recognized in the data. In 2019, the two prairie ecozones sequestered 11,983,000 tonnes. Since 1990 and the start of the data tracking, the reported sequestration is estimated to be 330,792,290 tonnes.

The data shows the number of hectares leaving agriculture (treated as an emission) is more than the annual sequestration. Since 1990, the hectares in the data set have dropped by 1.6 million hectares.
Policy implications include accurate farm net-zero accounting and who pays from emission charges for urban expansion.


At the January 2022 gathering of the Crop Commissions in Alberta, Biological Carbon Canada presented an overview of the GHG emission for Canadian agriculture and the five markets currently trading farm and nature-based carbon.

There was a question about the sink data presented. When the presentation aggregated all the sink data into one line, a farmer asked why he couldn’t see any data representing a one-pass farming story, as well as why is the sink shrinking? This information strives to answer those questions.

This document also includes information on:

  • The Emission Data
  • The Greenhouse Gas Negative Emissions
  • Why Does the Soil Sink Change?
  • Implications
  • Conversion of Cropland and Grassland to Settlement
  • No-tillage Reporting by Farmers
  • Policy Considerations

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