Carbon sequestration as a climate measure in agricultural lands

WHAT CAN YOU APPLY FOR?

Research projects that promote carbon sequestration in Swedish agricultural land.

WHO CAN APPLY?

Researchers at Swedish higher education institutions, research institutes and government agencies with research mandates.

HOW MUCH CAN YOU APPLY FOR?

A minimum of one million kronor per year and a maximum of two million kronor per year for a minimum of two years and a maximum of four years.

Closed: Decision is made: 2022-09-28 14:00.

The call’s purpose is to build up knowledge and provide new solutions to promote carbon sequestration in Swedish agricultural land. The research should also promote Swedish food production that supports this transition while standing up well by international standards.

The Swedish agricultural sector contributes to climate change, including through emissions of nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide from agricultural land. To cope with the climate crisis, we must produce food in a way that does not increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere but instead helps to lower it. The Swedish agricultural system also binds carbon dioxide and stores it in more stable forms of carbon in the soil. Modified or improved farming practices can potentially increase the sequestration of organic carbon and nutrients in agricultural land, increase yields, improve the soil’s biological and physical properties, and increase biodiversity. Research is needed to improve our understanding of the potential of carbon sequestration from a Swedish perspective as well as to describe linkages and understand how to promote carbon sequestration.

The call is part of the Swedish National Research Programme on Food and the Swedish National Research Programme on Climate. It is aimed at researchers at Swedish higher education institutions, research institutes and government agencies that have a research mandate.

February 17, 2022: Clarification: You need to enter co-financing in Prisma as "Other cost" directly in the budget. Uunder the heading "Total budget", click on "Edit" so the field "Other cost" becomes visible. Describe what the co-financing consists of in the budget specification.

The agricultural sector accounts for a significant proportion of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change, such as nitrous oxide, methane and carbon dioxide. The largest source of carbon dioxide emissions from agricultural land is organic soil (former bogs drained to create new land for farming), which emits close to 3 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, according to calculations from the Swedish Board of Agriculture. At the same time, cultivated plants bind carbon dioxide and store it in the ground. According to the report “Koll på kolet” (2021) from the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry, it is mainly the change in carbon stores in the soil that has a direct, extensive impact on the climate.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the Swedish agricultural sector requires the development and application of practices for increasing carbon storage in the ecosystem, for example by binding more carbon in arable land. Improved or modified farming practices, such as varied crop rotations and crop selection, can reduce the loss of carbon and increase stores of carbon in agricultural land. Formas’ systematic research review of this field (“Växtföljders påverkan på inlagring av organiskt kol i jordbruksmark”, 2021) has found that organic carbon sequestration in agricultural land can have other benefits, such as increased fertility, improved biological and physical soil properties, increased soil biodiversity, improved circulation of nutrients, and better resistance to pest pressure and plant diseases.

Furthermore, model calculations demonstrate that it is economically viable to practice crop rotations that promote organic carbon sequestration in agricultural land, even if they produce lower yields for individual farmers in the short term. From society’s perspective, it is vital to develop policy instruments and design processes that create incentives that facilitate the efforts of Swedish farmers and that spread both the risks and the costs of the climate transition. Swedish agriculture is already taking active steps to promote carbon sequestration in agricultural land, for example within the collaboration for carbon sequestration called “Svensk kolinlagring” and the sustainability project “Greppa näringen”. However, more knowledge is needed in this field to support the sector’s climate transition.

The call’s purpose is to build up knowledge and provide new solutions to promote carbon sequestration in Swedish agricultural land. From a sustainability perspective, such solutions will create added value by providing climate, environmental and social benefits while increasing food production and its competitiveness. The research funded should also promote Swedish food production that contributes to this transition while standing up well by international standards.

Research is needed to investigate the Swedish potential, describe linkages and understand how carbon sequestration can be promoted. Examples of areas requiring more knowledge about carbon sequestration in Swedish agricultural land include:

  • Future potential in different geographical cultivation areas and types of food systems
  • Importance of different crops and crop rotations
  • Comparable measurement methods
  • Impact of different farming practices and cultivation systems on carbon sequestration
  • Combined effects of climate change on carbon sequestration
  • Importance of carbon sequestration for the state of the environment, including biodiversity and eutrophication
  • Drivers and obstacles to agricultural carbon sequestration
  • Different forms of measures, subsidies and instruments that can help increase carbon sequestration and allocate risks and costs
  • Educational tools that illustrate carbon flows in agriculture and make it easier for decision-makers to prioritise actions.

The projects are expected to include and engage relevant actors and stakeholders from sectors like agriculture and food production and from civil society.

The call is focused on Swedish food production – specifically Swedish agricultural land – and thus does not include climate impact from animal husbandry.

The call is part of two national research programmes with a shared interest in the call. The Swedish National Research Programme on Food External link. (in Swedish) stems from the national food strategy and aims to support the Swedish food sector in its transition while increasing economic viability. The Swedish National Research Programme on Climate External link. has identified carbon sequestration in the agricultural sector, among other sectors, as an essential tool for achieving rapid emission reductions and negative emissions. Both programmes encourage system perspectives, interdisciplinary approaches and links to the 2030 Agenda whenever relevant.

The call is aimed at researchers who are affiliated with a Swedish higher education institution, research institute, or government agency that has a research assignment. Relevant stakeholders, such as players in the agricultural sector, food production sector and civil society, are expected to be involved in the project. Stakeholders outside academia are welcome to provide co-funding for the project, but it is not a requirement. In this call, Formas does not grant funding to organisations engaged in economic activity.

Before you apply

All information about the contents of an application, the application process and the assessment process is described in the sections below.

Grants in this call can only be administered by a Swedish higher education institution, research institute, government agency with a research mandate, or other organisation that primarily engages in research.

To apply for a grant in this call, the following criteria must be met:

  • The principal applicant has completed their PhD degree by the time the call closes.
  • Participating researchers have completed their PhD degree by the time the call closes. Other staff involved in the project do not need to have a PhD degree.
  • The proposed grant recipient is stated as the project manager on the application.

There is no upper age limit for the principal applicant and participating researchers. However, researchers who are full-time pensioners are not eligible to receive funding towards salaries.

When you apply for project funding, you can apply for a grant to cover both direct and indirect costs. Direct costs include costs for salaries, equipment and travel. Indirect costs are costs that are shared with others in your organisation, such as for administration, IT and renting of premises. Indirect costs are sometimes called overhead.

Grant amount and project duration

A minimum of one million kronor per year and a maximum of two million kronor per year for a minimum of two years and a maximum of four years

You should write your application in English, since the review panel that will assess your application is international. If you do write your application in Swedish, a professional translator will translate into English only the section describing the research programme. You will not be able to change the translation before the application proceeds to assessment. However, the popular science description must be written in Swedish, while the abstract should be in both Swedish and English. Your budget specification and CV will not be translated. So, please write these in English, even if you write the other sections in Swedish and submit your application in the Swedish version of our application system.

According to Swedish law, your application and its appendices are considered as general public documents once they have been submitted to us. This means that anyone can request and read your application. Information can only be concealed if it is confidential as defined in the Public Access to Information and Confidentiality Act (2009:400).

Formas has limited possibilities to keep personal data confidential. Therefore, your application should not contain the personal data of anyone who is not included in the application.

The popular science description and project abstracts in Swedish and English will, if the project is awarded funding, be published in open-access project databases without a confidentiality review. Therefore, the contents of these fields should not contain sensitive information.

We at Formas are eager to fund projects that maximise positive and minimise negative impacts on the environment and climate. We therefore encourage grant applicants to design their projects so that collaboration takes place primarily through online meetings and that any necessary travel takes place in a climate-smart way. We also suggest that you include measures that minimise energy use and other resource consumption, emissions and waste in project planning. However, this will not be part of the assessment of your application at this time.

Sustainability at Formas

How to apply

You apply in Prisma

You apply for a grant in our application system, Prisma, where you add the information you need for your application. In Prisma, you must create a personal account.

Apply for a personal account in Prisma External link.

All limits for the maximum number of characters refer to characters including spaces. We recommend that you choose the Arial font in font size 12 for the information you enter in all text boxes.

Your application must include a clear description of the project under the following sections:

Basic information

  • Number of years for which the application applies.
  • Project title in Swedish and English (max. 200 characters including spaces).
  • Popular science description in Swedish (max. 4,500 characters including spaces). If the project is awarded a grant, the popular science description will be published in open-access project databases without a confidentiality review. The contents of this field should therefore not contain sensitive information.
  • Abstract in Swedish and English (max. 1,500 characters each, including spaces). Project abstracts for awarded projects will be published in open-access project databases without a confidentiality review. Therefore, the contents of these fields should not contain sensitive information.

Research programme

Project purpose and method (max. 12,000 characters including spaces)

Describe the project’s purpose and research questions. Provide a background description that includes an overview of the research field. Describe how the project can significantly contribute to the development of the state of knowledge within the field. Describe the methods and explain why they are appropriate relative to the project’s research questions.

The social benefit of the project (max. 8,000 characters including spaces)

Describe how the project’s results can benefit society and help to meet its challenges. Include a description of relevant stakeholders and users. Also describe the areas where the results can be used, and the initiatives the project thus plans to implement for these areas. Describe how the results can be made accessible, including plans for publication.

Project competence and implementation (max. 12,000 characters including spaces)

Describe the composition of the project team and explain why the project has the necessary experts to complete the project. Describe the project’s work plan and access to resources other than staff resources. Justify the budget based on the project’s work plan. Describe how the project will address any ethical considerations.

References (max. 5,000 characters including spaces)

List the in-line references pertaining to the above headings in a separate field.

Budget

You report the project budget in Prisma. Note that you must always write the budget and budget specification in English; any Swedish budget specification will not be translated but will instead be assessed as is by the international review panel. In Prisma, write out the total amount you are applying for in kronor using digits. For example, 1 million kronor should be written as: 1 000 000 kronor.

The budget should include the following:

  • Salaries, including social security fees for each project participant. The total amount of the salary for a single researcher, PhD student or other staff must not exceed 100 percent of full-time employment. So, someone who already has full salary funding from any funding source cannot receive additional salary funding. Researchers who are full-time pensioners cannot receive funding for their own salary.
  • Percent of salary refers to the percentage of the applicant’s full-time salary that corresponds to their salary in the project.
  • Dedicated time to the project/Activity level in the project refers to the percentage of a full-time position that the participants contribute. It indicates whether the applicant is contributing in-kind or other funding to complete the project.
  • Running costs include, for example, consumables, travel, conferences and publication in open-access journals and databases. Specify operating costs in accordance with practices at the administrating organisation.
  • Equipment and depreciation costs. Specify costs for equipment and equipment depreciation if relevant to the application. The total maximum amount you can be granted for equipment and equipment depreciation costs is 500 000 kronor.
  • You can apply for funding to cover the cost of premises if this is not already included as overhead in the project’s budget. Specify premises costs in accordance with the applicable practices at the administrating organisation.
  • Total amount applied/Subtotal refers to costs already entered in the previous budget tables, which will be automatically transferred to these items.
  • Indirect costs refer to overhead costs. When you specify overhead costs in the application, you should do so according to the practice of the organisation that will manage the grant. If funds are to be transferred from the administrating organisation to another organisation involved in the project, the overhead cost of the receiving organisation can be applied to the funds transferred. Explain and report the different overhead costs in the budget specification. The total overhead for the project must be entered in the budget table. Formas does not grant funding for overhead costs that you write off for equipment or premises.
  • Other costs refers to funds not sought but relevant to the completion of the project. An example is co-funding from partners or project funding from other sources. You need to enter co-financing as "Other cost" directly in the budget. Under the heading "Total budget", click on "Edit" so the field "Other cost" becomes visible. Describe what the co-financing consists of in the budget specification.
  • Total cost refers to a budget summary.
  • Budget specification explains the budget in words. State how the grant amount you are applying for will be distributed each year, as well as the total amount for each organisation if funds will be transferred to other organisations. Provide a brief justification for the salary expenses stated in the budget. All other costs must be justified, such as costs for participating in conferences, publication fees for open-access publications and data, and similar. A description of the total project budget, including funding from other sources, should also be included. The budget specification is part of the application assessment.

Ethical considerations

You should specify whether or not there are specific ethical concerns in your project. If so, state what these ethical concerns are and how you plan to manage them. Examples include research that uses personal data or research involving experiments on humans or animals.

If you are conducting research on people, human tissue or are processing sensitive personal data, you must obtain ethical approval from the Swedish Ethical Review Authority. If you are conducting an animal experiment, you also need to obtain ethical approval. You can apply for approval through the Swedish Board of Agriculture’s online service.

You should state in your application whether or not you have obtained ethical approval. If you have not obtained such approval and you are awarded a grant, you must obtain it before the described studies begin.

Even if you do not expect your research to involve ethical concerns, you should state this in your application and briefly explain why not.

Classifications

Formas uses the project’s classifications in analyses and supporting documentation on an overall level. The classifications are made when the applicant states the subject area, research topic (SCB code), at least one sustainable development goal the project can contribute to, and keywords.

  • Subject area
    Select at least one and a maximum of three subject areas and add a sub-heading.

  • Research subject (SCB code)
    Select at least one and a maximum of three research topics and two sub-levels that together form the entire code.
  • Sustainable development goals
    Select at least one and up to three sustainable development goals (SDGs) the project can help to achieve, in order of relevance.

  • Keywords
    Enter at least one and a maximum of three keywords describing the project.

More about the meaning of the goals External link.

Administrating organisation – the organisation receiving the grant

In this call, only applicants from Formas’ administrating organisations that are approved for all calls can submit an application. Prisma contains a default list of approved administrating organisations. From this dropdown list, select:

  • Your administrating organisation
  • Project site

Project participants

  • The principal applicant invites participating researchers to the application in Prisma.
  • A participating researcher is a PhD researcher who is considered to be a co-applicant for the project.
  • You can also have participating administrators who are not involved in the project but help you fill in the application form. Participating administrators cannot register the application; only the principal applicant can.
  • All participants must have created their own personal account in Prisma.
  • Principal applicants invite people to participate in the application process by searching for their given name, surname and email address in Prisma (note that exact spelling of names and email addresses is required).

CVs

The project manager and participating researchers retrieve the CV information from their personal account in Prisma and add it to the application. Applicants should review in good time that their CV in Prisma is complete and up-to-date. If the participating researchers have not accepted the invitation to participate or completed the required fields correctly, the principal applicant will not be able to complete registration of the application. Participants who are not co-applicants are not able to attach CV information. Instead, their qualifications for the project should be described in the research programme.

The following CV information should be added to the application.

  • Education
    • Postgraduate studies
    • Undergraduate and graduate education
  • Employment history
    • Current job and previous longer jobs that are relevant
    • Postdoc assignments
    • Research exchanges relevant to the proposed research
    • Including any significant gaps in the research (such as parental leave, illness, military service or political duties)
  • Qualifications and merits:
    • Lectureships
    • Supervised students: PhD students, postdocs, graduate thesis students; add either as an individual person or as a group. When adding a group, enter the total number for each category. When adding an individual person, name the most relevant ones (max 10).
    • Grants received in competition: Specify the most relevant ones (max. 10).
    • Awards and distinctions: Specify the most relevant ones (max. 10).
    • Other qualifications, including summary of publications:
      • List other qualifications that are relevant to the application, such as popular science publications and proven experience of collaboration and research communication (max. 10).
      • The principal applicant and participating researchers should also provide a brief summary of their publications during the past five years as well as the total number of publications if the applicant’s active research period exceeds five years (max. 800 characters including spaces). This summary should include the following:
        • The number of publications of various types, such as articles in peer-reviewed journals, book chapters, books and other monographs, conference papers and popular science contributions.
        • The summary must not contain information about journal impact factors or any other type of metric used to rank publishers or journals.

Publications

The main applicant and participating researchers should list up to ten of their most relevant publications. Note that the publications should be linked from the applicant’s personal profiles in Prisma. You must report the publication summary in Prisma under “Other merits”.

Appendices

Appendix for illustrations. If you need figures, tables or images to describe the project, you can upload them as attachments here. A maximum of one PDF attachment of 4 MB can be uploaded. Please note that a CV should not be attached as an appendix.

After submitting your application

First, Formas verifies that the application meets the procedural requirements set out in the call. If the application does not meet these requirements, it is rejected.

The following requirements will be verified in this call:

  • The administrating organisation has signed the application within seven calendar days of the call’s closing date.
  • The application has been approved by the administrating organisation.
  • The application’s focus falls within Formas’ areas of responsibility.
  • The focus of the application falls within the call’s areas.
  • The application is complete and contains all mandatory information.
  • The requirements for project managers, project participants and organisations under “Applicant and organisation requirements” are met.
  • The principal applicant responsible for other projects or activities funded by Formas has submitted any requested reports by the stated deadline.

All applications are assessed by an external review panel based on the contents of the application. It is therefore important to write the application as clearly as possible and include all important and relevant information.

Applications will be assessed by an international review panel that is qualified to cover the current theme in the call. Applications are assessed based on their contents. It is therefore important to write the application as clearly as possible and include all important and relevant information. Each application is read and assessed by several members of the panel. The review panel is composed of active researchers as well as individuals outside academia with the expertise necessary to evaluate the relevance of the research. The review panel is appointed by Formas. Discrimination, such as on the basis of sex, is prohibited in the assessment of applications. The scientific quality and relevance of the proposed research take precedence over aspects of gender equality in the awarding of funding. But in cases where applications have the same assessment scores, the underrepresented sex is given preference. Read more about Formas’ assessment process

The application assessment process

The applications are assessed based on the following criteria.

Scientific quality

  • The project’s purpose and research questions are clearly defined and aligned with the call’s purpose.
  • The project can significantly contribute to developing the current state of knowledge.
  • The methods are appropriate relative to the project’s questions.

Societal relevance and value

  • The project can make a significant contribution to meeting societal challenges.
  • The project is designed with relevant consideration for different stakeholders and users.
  • The project has identified the key areas where the results can be used.
  • The plan for scientific publication and description of initiatives for communicating the results and making them accessible is specific, realistic and appropriate.

Competence and implementation

  • The project participants have the necessary competence to carry out the project.
  • The project has access to other necessary resources (other than staff).
  • The work plan is well-defined and realistic.
  • The budget is appropriate relative to the work plan.
  • Ethical considerations are described clearly, and the applicant’s plan for managing them is appropriate.

Decisions on which projects are granted funding are expected to be made on 27 September 2022. We publish our decisions the following day at the latest on the Formas website and later by email from Prisma. Grant award decisions cannot be appealed.

All awarded projects must submit a report to Formas containing financial and project results within three months of the end of the availability period. For projects longer than 18 months, a financial statement must also be submitted to Formas annually. All reports are submitted in Prisma.

How to report expenses and results External link.

Formas may impose requirements on how projects must be reported in terms of content and results to enable distribution and application. In such cases, the award decision will contain more information about this. Formas may also require you to participate in conferences and similar events in order to create synergies and platforms for learning and knowledge sharing.

Results of research funded by Formas must be published using open access.

You must also have a data management plan for the data produced in the project. This plan does not need to be submitted to Formas, but should be presented on request. By signing our grant terms and conditions, you certify that a data management plan will be available before the research begins and that it will be maintained.

Open access to research results and data External link.

SweCRIS

Formas shares information about awarded grants to SweCRIS, a national database of grant-funded research that was instituted by request of the government.

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Updated:24 March 2022