EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Amid many headlines about EVs, clean energy and other ways to combat climate change, soil scientists are working on more “in-the-ground” solutions here in East Lansing.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded a $1.95 million grant to a team of researchers led by Bruno Basso, Michigan State University soil scientist.

Also on the research team are professionals from Woods End Laboratories, based in Maine.

Basso says that soils are able to sequester more carbon than the atmosphere and vegetation combined.

The research team’s job will be to help educate undeserved agriculture professionals in Michigan as well as Maine, Pennsylvania, New York and Vermont, to evaluate organic carbon in soil and help soils sequester carbon.

“We need stakeholders from all areas of agriculture to adequately address the multifaceted nature of the problem and its potential solutions,” Basso said.

Soil’s significant sequestration potential can be beneficial not only to the environment, but also economically for farmers.

Because of emerging soil carbon markets, private companies and nonprofits can pay farmers for sequestering carbon and avoiding greenhouse gas emissions.

However, there are many costs involved, including soil sampling, remote sensing image analysis, modeling and other carbon stock assessment techniques.

Basso’s research is addressing novel approaches, like paring remote sensing with crop modeling, to try to make the soil sampling and evaluation more cost-feasible and easier.

The research is aimed at farmers and agricultural professionals in underserved groups like indigenous peoples, people of color, LGBTQ+ people, and people with religious or cultural beliefs that impact land management decisions.

The team will be collaborating with several organizations across the five states.

To train the agricultural professionals, the team will be developing printed materials, online bulletins, videos, a podcast and a film documentary, among other media and events.

“Agriculture is at the foundation of our global community, and we need to promote practices that are sustainable long term,” Basso said.

“We need a wide variety of farmers, agribusiness professionals and agronomists to participate, especially those who have historically not had a strong voice in agriculture circles,” he continued.