The Soil Carbon Method
The soil – the largest carbon sink in the world over which we have control
The World is moving on Climate Change. Be ready to be part of the Solution.
The impact of human activities on the atmosphere and the accompanying risks of long-term global climate change are by now familiar topics to many people.
Although most of the increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations is due to carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuels, globally about one-third of the total human-induced warming effect due to GHGs comes from agriculture and land-use change. (The largest being methane from cattle and nitrous oxide from fertilizer).
This means that the spotlight will come onto Agriculture to reduce emissions.
In Australia, when Carbon Trading became a reality in 2013, and due to intense lobbying from various groups, Agriculture was EXEMPT from having to calculate its emissions but ALLOWED to trade in emissions reductions and Carbon Sequestration (the storing of carbon in trees, vegetation and soils).
This is a huge win, because the alternative is that there will be REGULATION on Agricultural emissions – and who wants that?
It was acknowledged that the SOIL was the largest carbon sink over which we have control AND that as our soils increase in carbon, there are productivity improvements – commonly called ‘co-benefits’. These are: better water retention and better soil structure – Into drought later, out of drought sooner has much appeal in Australia.
It is the action of increased biomass above and below ground that does this. If you have more and more productive grasses, the act of photosynthesis takes carbon OUT of the air, as they ‘breathe’ in CO2 and the plant uses the carbon in their own structures and take the carbon down into the soil where microbes use it and over time it is stored in the soil.
So, while Agriculture is a high emitter, Farmers are also the managers of the LARGEST carbon sink – giving Agriculture the BEST chance of reducing the effects of Climate change. NO amount of lowering emissions or changing light bulbs will reduce the temperature enough – because it is the level of CO2 in the atmosphere from the last 70 years of emissions which are driving the temperature increase at the moment.
Australia has unique advantages as a potential soil sink on account of:
- Our large areas of suitable affordable land and soils requiring restoration.
- Our suitable climate for the growth of biomass systems to sequester this carbon.
- Our unique native flora with high Carbon sequestration potentials.
- Our advanced skill and technology base for the efficient restoration of these soils. We are a developed country with high levels of knowledge.
- We have political, financial and legal stability which should encourage the long term investments needed for soil restoration and biomass farming and the realisation of returns.
- The significant co- benefits in terms of bio-diversity, improved water efficiencies, resilience and increased productivity which can follow soil Carbon improvement.
Background To Trading in Australia:
Since 2013, Australian farmers have been able to be paid to increase soil carbon in grazing systems. Under the Emissions Reduction Fund, there are contracts written to supply over 3 million tonnes of Soil Carbon Sequestration over the next 10 years. Only farmers can deliver this.
Since the first version of the method, techniques to improve soil carbon measurement have evolved and the Government has also understood that soil carbon can be potentially increased in a wide variety of soils, depths and industries.
Much work has therefore gone into the ‘new’ method. It’s a world first and Australia remains at the forefront of unlocking the ‘carbon’ secrets of the soil.
Given the win/win of soil carbon sequestration – improved productivity and water holding capacity as well as the ability to be paid to assist in the Climate Change Challenge improving soil carbon is part of the ‘farm of the future’.
This method allows for a greater number of agricultural systems to take part, including horticulture, cropping and grazing and improves the range of available soil carbon measurement protocols. It also now allows the use of soil ammendments containing biochar under certain conditions.
Have a look at the Summary below and if you’d like any more information, please don’t hesitate to give me a call on 0417 280 540. I’m always up for a conversation on soil carbon!
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