Enough is Enough!
July 19, 2013 Louisa Kiely
OK, so there is a lot going on in the ‘carbon space’ at the moment. Are we getting an ETS, a Direct Action, or something in between?
As you know, we have been asking for a proper market, outside of Government! Which is why we support the Voluntary market.
But, this is too much! –Click here for article
Here is why – please send to anyone who thinks the above article has credence.
Your article in today’s SMH – “Coalition’s soil carbon plan ‘unviable’, study finds” – is well written but is based on 5 major mistakes in the method adopted by the researchers.
1.Their analysis of the results of hundreds of studies up to 30 years old is irrelevant for one very important reason: the past has nothing to say about the future in this case. Genuine carbon farming has yet to be adopted because there are no credits to be earned until the Government produces an approved “Methodology” – which will take at least another 12 months. The majority of farmers are not practicing carbon farming in earnest and won’t be until they are rewarded for it. The Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) specifically rules out rewarding ‘business as usual’ or practices started before the existing carbon stocks in the soil are measured, or ‘baselined’. The data used in the analysis, therefore, cannot support the conclusions drawn.
2. The Melbourne University study relies on isolating the soil carbon performance of individual “improved management practices”. But the largest and latest study to date, the $24.5m Soil Carbon Research Program (SCaRP), could not find a link between ‘practice’ and soil C. Jeff Baldock of CSIRO reported that “Significant differences in soil carbon stocks often were not detected despite strong variations in management practices.” Simply choosing to adopt a practice does not guarantee that it will be implemented effectively. The potential of the Australian landscape to store soil carbon cannot be measured by calculating the average for different management practices. The potential is not the average; in the context of controversy over volumes that can be captured and stored, it is the highest level possible. In which case, the skills and experience of the farmer are the critical variable. Peak performance soil managers have recorded carbon increases 2-to-5-times the highest levels reported by scientists. But this minority that practices advanced soil husbandry is routinely screened out as statistical outliers. These outliers are yet to be studied. (CSIRO and Carbon Farmers of Australia have applied for a grant to study them.) For this reason, we still do not know the soil carbon potential of Australian farmers.
3. The ability of anyone to entertain accurate premonitions of carbon prices in 5 years’ time is another source of error. Five years ago carbon was bringing 40 euros on the European Carbon Market. Few market analysts would risk predicting the price in 2020. The carbon farmer is not likely to have carbon to sell for at least 5 years. And soil carbon offsets are ‘bankable’ – i.e, farmers can decide when to take their carbon to market. Speculation about prices for soil carbon is all there can be.
4. Limiting measuring carbon activity to the top 10cms is an out-of-date concept that loads the dice against soil carbon. The CFI started out with that profile of measurement but extended it to 30cm. Since then the concept of “Deep Soil Carbon” has been established by researchers who found that soil carbon levels for the entire profile are 2-to-5-times greater than the top 50cms.
5. The choice of croplands for the study is also loading the dice against soil carbon. Around 80% of Australia’s agricultural soils are used for grazing, an activity which out-performs cropping in carbon sequestration. Cropping is a process that ‘exports’ a larger amount of the carbon it captures by photosynthesis than pastures. The grazing animals play a role in returning above-ground organic matter to the topsoil, within reach of the microbial communities that manufacture soil carbon in the root zone.
I will happily supply any additional info you need.
WE ARE moving ahead with a soil carbon methodology. It is looking good now, even if its a year away still! The soil remains the largest carbon sink under our control!!
We remain your humble, hard working carbon advocates!