Soil Carbon baseline ALERT

Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Farmers involved in Action On The Ground projects which have soil carbon measurement as a key objective should ask their scientific adviser about the baseline measurement methodology you will be using. The requirement that the farm-scale or paddock-scale measurement method used for Action On The Ground be consistent with that used in the SCaRP is confusing. “SCaRP was not set up to baseline carbon contents on paddocks or farms”, Dr Jeff Baldock wrote in a paper published late last year. 

 So where does that leave you? Ask your scientific adviser the following questions: 
  1. Do we have a soil carbon baseline methodology that meets the Department's requirements? 
  2. Do we know if the baseline measurements that we take for this project will be useful for measuring carbon sequestered that we can put towards gaining offsets should they become available? 
  3. Will our involvement in this project disqualify us from earning soil carbon offsets in future because of the Additionality Integrity Standard? What can we do to avoid this outcome?

Global Warming good for soil carbon traders

Tuesday, July 10, 2012
GOOD NEWS for farmers who choose to trade soil carbon offsets: Global Warming will increase soil carbon sequestration rates for decades ahead, according to a recent research results summarized by the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change (CO2science.org). As the CO2 levels in the atmosphere increase, most plants increase photosynthetic rates to produce greater amounts of biomass. This leads to greater inputs of carbon to the soil from roots, root exudates and dead above-ground plant material. It’s not just about more biomass, either. CO2 enrichment typically reduces decomposition rates of dead plant materials present in soils. This phenomenon often leads to greater soil carbon sequestration. 

Scientists have concluded that, in spite of predicted increases in temperature, this stimulation of the below-ground carbon sequestration could exert a negative feed-back on the current rise of the atmospheric CO2 concentration. Finally, with more carbon in soils, soil structure and fertility should be improved, providing a positive feedback that further enhances plant growth and soil carbon sequestration.

Now you can afford to increase soil carbon

Sunday, July 08, 2012
One of the biggest puzzles about soil carbon has been solved. In 2008, 5 scientists published a short paper called "The Hidden Cost of Carbon Sequestration"*. Many people thought it shot a big hole in any prospect of Soil Carbon trading. Effectively, it made the claim that a farmer could not afford to increase carbon levels in their soils because humus ties up nitrogen and other nutrients needed by plants to grow. The farmer would have to buy extra fertiliser to replace that stolen by the humus and it would cost more to do that than soil carbon trading would pay. 

The lead author told me that, based on his paper's argument, the increases in soil C achieved by leading carbon farmers were doubtful. "

I am aware of Colin Seis's remarkable achievements, and I have wondered 
how he has succeeded in increasing soil organic matter in the topsoil by
 2%. If that increase is largely humus, then it is likely to contain, in 
organically bound form, about 2 tonne/ha of N, 400 kg/ha of P and 300
kg/ha of S. I puzzle about where such large amounts could have come
 from.

 Regards, 

John Passioura". 

Well, now science has solved the puzzle. Free-living nitrogen-fixing bacteria are supplying 75% of the N a 2t/ha cereal wheat paddock in the Mallee uses, according to the Victorian DPI. A 12-year trial found bacteria are delivering 35kg/ha each year. In an intensive cropping regime the organic carbon level rose from 0.80% to 1% between 1997 and 2011. Cropping is usually a carbon-exporting activity. The CSIRO's Dr Margaret Roper has published a review of literature that estimates that the theoretical potential of the contribution of these bacteria is up to 150kgN/ha. 

The DPI's Ron Sonogan reported the Mallee trials: "Assuming a 0.2% increase in OC each year, this may well have added another 120kg/ha of nitrogen to the system over 14 years." The widespread shift to no-till and stubble-retention over the last 20 years has increased the carbon inputs which are a key driver for bacterial N2 fixation. Estimates of fixation were set more than 20 years ago and are therefore in need of up-dating, say the scientists. Australian Farm Journal reported the findings earlier this year, proving that the nutrients incorporated in humus don't have to come out of a bag. 

 *GRDC Groundcover Magazine Issue 76, p.19 (2008)

Carbon increases create miracle soils: GRDC

Saturday, July 07, 2012
They call them “suppressive” soils because they suppress disease in crops. Scientists are racing to find out why. But they know 2 things: 
  1. Soil microbes are responsible for them. 
  2. Soil carbon increases are the key. 
And  “There are soils right across the country where the incidence or severity of disease is suppressed, even in the presence of the pathogen that causes it, a host plant and a favourable environment,”  says Associate Professor Pauline Mele, LaTrobe University and principal research scientist, Department of Primary Industries Victoria (DPI).
“These disease-suppressive soils have been found to develop under management practices that supply higher levels of carbon inputs for more than five consecutive years. The carbon from plant roots and crop residues is biologically available and provides an important food source for soil biota, ” says CSIRO’s Dr Gupta Vadakattu in GRDC’s GroundCover 96 Soil Biology Supplement.

Disease suppression is the result of increased species density among microbial communities in soils associated with increased carbon levels. We know that, when soil carbon levels are rising, biodiversity increases and this has the effect of increasing resilience (or disease resistance). “We know the effect is due to the presence of a diverse range of ‘good’ micro-organisms,” says Professor Mele.

Three facts Dr Mele mentioned provide further evidence that soil carbon is a key influence:
  1. Balance in the microbial  community is critical: “upsetting the balance or sterilising the soil can cause the disease to strike with a vengeance”.
  2. It is not soil type specific; it could therefore be a soil health agent – such as carbon – that is at work: “ we believe every soil has the potential to be suppressive”
  3. It is a feature of soil heavily influenced by a farmer’s management practices: “it’s just a matter of working out what management techniques will encourage it.”
The fact that a microbial community is a natural system and such systems exhibit ‘emergent properties’ as they become more complex. It is not one variable at work. However, reductionist science tends to look for the single factor. However the Professor says, “At this stage, though, we’re still trying to identify exactly what organisms, or combination of organisms, are doing the work.”

“HIGH rainfall zone (HRZ) grain growers stand to increase yields and save significant amounts of money on chemicals, if the secrets of suppressive soils can be unlocked,” reports The Land. Growers lose an estimated $250 million each year from root lesion nematodes alone. “Soil biology is tipped to be the ‘next big thing’ in terms of productivity gains and a five-year research program is currently being funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) to address some of the knowledge gaps.” Having poured scorn on soil biology as “snake oil” and ‘witches brew’ for so long, the GRDC’s epiphany is welcome.

“The soil biological resource under our feet is seen as something of the ‘last frontier’ for the grains industry… We know it’s about competition for resources. If we create a habitat that favours one type of soil microbe, say through repeated use of the same management practice such as addition of fertiliser or sowing the same plant types, the community may end up with fewer types of biota present; thereby reducing the resilience of the system,” says Professor Mele.
The writing is on the wall for chemical companies. “Using biological suppression to reduce crop losses, without chemicals or with minimum chemical input, could improve the profitability of growers worldwide,” says the Professor.                                      
More information about the Soil Biology Initiative II is available at www.grdc.com.au/soilbiology. Research partners include the Victorian Department of Primary Industries (DPI Vic), Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestries (DAFF), Department of Agriculture and Food WA (DAFWA), and CSIRO.  

Removing animals from the land to make way for trees. Carbon Farming gone mad?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Again, the suggestion that to 'carbon farm' we may need to destock land. Somehow, I just don't find it exciting to think that we take grass eating animals out of a time honoured biological system which is dependant on well managed grass eating animals to survive and ensure we have food to eat and avoid desertification. Yes, I can see the temptation - Many large areas are moving towards degradation. It seems simple - take the destructive animals off, solve the issue! 

The problem is, its NOT the animals. Its the management! All farmers who have discovered the benefits of time controlled, or managed grazing - (and there are many, including almost all of those who now win awards in a grazing environment), have discovered the win/win which is available for allowing your pasture to rest, simply by changing the management of your animals. Just so happens that we can also take CO2 out of the air and store it in the soils while we do this!

The Carbon Farming Initiative itself says it aims to put trees in 'marginal land' only. Destocking entire farms surely does not come into this category! Don't forget, under the rules of the CFI - putting in trees is a LONG TERM decision - take care if you think one day you may like to put the animals back on - for instance when your pasture has benefited from the rest it so badly needs. 

Don't get me wrong - Trees are very important, and we intend to put some onto our place using the CFI rules. But not to destock to do so. 

Luckily, as reported a few days ago, one of the great entrepreneurs of the grazing system approach already has done the work for getting what he is calling 'intensive grazing' onto the Positive List. This is incredibly important as we move towards a viable, profitable soil carbon sequestration methodology under the CFI rules. 

This will enable farmers to be paid for storing carbon in the soils , using their animals as the tools they really are. We already have submitted a soil carbon methodology to the CFI process, and we are moving through the system of acceptance as well. It is slow work, being the first. 

So, graziers, take heart - there are a couple of groups working to ensure that your hard work on your flocks and herds will not be lost to a suggestion that you 
destock. 

Soil carbon sequestration is considered amongst the 'hardest' of the sequestration efforts to measure, monitor etc. However, it was hard to get over the Blue Mountains in the early days, it was hard to get a man on the moon, and its been hard to do a million other things. HARD is not a reason to stop! 

Good media coverage last week - Augers well for future

Monday, June 25, 2012
Last week we were interviewed by 2 sets of journos as they try to gather info on what farmers are doing and 
thinking about with all the new 'carbon era' noise around. This piece aired on PM last Thursday or Friday. We also got a run in the Sustainability Report - click here to read the full article.

Farmers are wondering: Should they, shouldn't they - AND, while the soil carbon sequestration meth seems to take forever, we have only ONE method which broadacre farmers can take part in. The Tree Planting meth. 

So, we've decided to put about 20ha. of a tree planting methodology onto our place - basically to see if we can figure out how hard/easy it is for the ordinary bloke to take part. This is the STATED aim of the CFI - we are meant to be able to take the meth 'off the shelf' and do it on farm. So, lets see. 

I know I can call someone who knows about planting trees, but how do I keep the most of the money in the regions? What local skills will I be able to use? Who holds the know-how to navigate the approval process? Will I need a degree to understand it? Can you do it without $1/2 million from the biodiversity fund round one? 

Most of this carbon market knowledge resides in the cities - which is why we are mounting our NEW Carbon Market Summit. We are bringing all that knowledge about HOW this works - legally, in the accounting sense, for councils and NRM agencies to come and learn - If this is going to happen, lets make the regions strong, let our accountants, lawyers, councils and others be the BEST informed they can be! Lets own the bl.....dy thing! (please note, this is ADDITIONAL to our annual Carbon Farming Conference and Expo - now in its sixth year) 

Rest assured however, we are still the champions of the soil! After all, we owe our existence to the interaction between the sun,  the rain and the soil! And the soil is the one we can 'manage'. It is still exciting for me to realise that farmers have control over the largest carbon sink over which we have control in the world . Rise up, Sir Farmer! 

If anyone else would like to add land into our tree methodology 'project', I'm happy to turn it into a bigger project - not sure how you do that if its over more than one area and one state, but I am sure we can figure it out! I'm talking with a company which does have experience in tree carbon so I won't be going it alone. If you don't have any land, but want to be part of a 'team of discovery' also happy to have you on board. I have a feeling there will be heaps of work to do! 

 And we'll learn all about HOW the heck this works. 

Onwards! 

Carbon Farming Newsletter - June 2012

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

NEWS FROM THE HUB OF
CARBON FARMING

CARBON FARMING AND TRADING - ENVISIONING THE FUTURE

or, Muses from the brain of a deranged ‘carbon-a-holic’ 

In this issue:

Methodology news


Well, a methodology - or to put it more exactly, an ‘approved’ methodology - is the ‘recipe book’ you need to follow to put a Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) ‘project’ on the ground. Everything you need to do is in this book. Great idea, but there's one small problem - it's written in Greek! 

Okay, so not really Greek – but they are hard to understand. The Government-developed ones have ‘tools’ to help navigate this, but privately funded ones will rely on you having to rely on them. However, the entire CFI had at its heart (and I hope it doesn’t lose its heart) the desire that any farmer could take an approved methodology off the virtual shelf, and do a project on their farm. 

Now, truth be told, there are quite a few other hurdles to be overcome - becoming an offset entity, getting a project approved, having the funds to put a project on the ground and self insurance being a few. Still, it is possible. 

Far more likely that farmers should band together - make a co-operative, for instance - get the economies of scale so necessary in any market, AND a larger pool of carbon - so importance for insurance! This way, even non – landholders who have a passion for the soil /trees and other potential trading areas could be part of what we call in the marketing world the ‘Brand Community’. 

Your co-op would have a name, and a branded carbon credit - for example, the ‘you beaut, fantastic, once in a lifetime’ Regional Credit. We are exploring this co-operative structure as a way of ensuring that its not just the big guys who can be traders/owners/custodians of this new space. 

Do you think the co-operative structure is a good one for gathering such a group together? It may not even just be for the CFI - it could explore other market potentials as well. Its all part of our vision to keep the money in the regions, and keep this local, before control whizzes out of our hands again. 

Let me know your thoughts, and we might explore the subject at the Carbon Conference this year as well. You can find me at louisa@carbonfarmersofaustralia.com.au or 02 6374 0329. 

News from the biosequestration 'enablers' - Let's get biological sequestration mainstream!


Personally, I like the sound of a Biological Farming CRC. We aren't in this product space, so let me know if these are good or bad developments. Do we need some Standards? 

Composts, soil conditioners and mulches Standard


The new revised Standard AS 4454 for composts, soil conditioners and mulches includes proposed minimum requirements for products labelled as a composted or pasteurized product. It also proposes physical and chemical requirements and documentation that includes information and health warning to be supplied to the consumer. Guidance is given on best practice for composting and vermicast systems designed to produce a quality product achieved by following an approved process.


The rhizosphere, microbiota and plant health

(can’t comment on this either – haven’t had a chance to look at it) 

The journal Plant and Soil has compiled its second virtual issue of theme-related papers, this time on research results dealing with the rhizosphere, microbiota and plant health. The first virtual issue covered biochar research.

More Information.

News from the grants space


All agencies have now cottoned onto the fact that the carbon space is where the money is! And competition is huge. Congratulations to all those successful so far. I swear to God we're going to be ready for the next round – hopefully with a bunch of you and a structure to support it all! 

I also swear to God we need the approved Government soil carbon measurement system for these as well. Please be advised that there is NOT one at the moment, so any measurements you might use are NOT the ones which will be required for a soil carbon Methodology. Might the one you use be adapted? Not sure. 

We're happy to take any comments/queries on the measurement issues, however we can’t get a definitive reply from the Department because the measurement meth is coming. Seems the demands of the funding rounds are ahead of the official measurement protocol. 

Soil carbon project funding


Over 100 research and demonstration projects across the country worth $72.5 million has been announced under the first round of Filling the Research Gap and Action on the Ground grants. The projects will trial and demonstrate a range of on-farm technologies and practices that store carbon, reduce or mitigate emissions of nitrous oxide and methane and improve farm productivity.

Biodiversity Fund grants announced


Several NSW landholders, councils, CMAs and landcare groups have been funded millions to improve biodiversity in their area in the first round of the Federal Government’s Biodiversity Fund. One of the largest grants was $2.6m for Connecting Riverine Communities in the Namoi, a collaborative project between NSW DPI and Namoi CMA.

More Information.

NEW, NEW, NEW! 


Draft methodology funding guidelines for comment. Now, take note! This is an important funding one. Please also note that the dates in this are wrong - it is NOT due to start on July 1 now- so there is a little more time.

We now know we need a methodology - and we know that they are hard to do. After all, do you know how to write up your sequestration or nitrous oxide reduction innovation in Greek? However, here is a grant that reckons it's here to help! 

It was this grant round that sent us scurrying to alert innovators to get onto the Positive List – because one piece of this puzzle is that to get a ‘meth’ up and running, the activity needs to be on the Positive List. As reported last newsletter, several innovators are going through this process. Please let me know if you’d like to be pointed in the right direction. 

So, the Federal Government has published draft funding guidelines for the development of carbon farming methodologies, and these are now available for stakeholder comment.

The stated aims of this Grants round is: 
  • The objective of the MDP is to expand the opportunities for land managers under the CFI through the development of methodologies that meet CFI requirements. 
  • The program will achieve this objective through support for methodology development projects that have the following characteristics:
    • The project involves a methodology that has potential for application across an region or industry because the abatement activity or activities: 
      • have significant abatement potential 
      • are cost effective and easily adopted, and/or 
      • have co-benefits for agricultural productivity, biodiversity or natural resource management.
    • The proposed methodology has the potential to be approved under the CFI 
We’ll keep everyone in the loop, but in the meantime, get ye to the Positive List!

A request we've received


I can neither recommend nor criticize this product - but, we are the ones willing to foster innovation. Please let me know if anyone takes it up. Maybe its one for the next round of Action on the Ground...

Dear Louisa: thank you for your assistance.

Hibrix Sales Pty Ltd is seeking farmers willing to carry out trials with the Hibrix Organic Liquid Fertiliser. The farmer follows the normal NPK system but reduces the fertilizer and herbicide inputs by 50% and replaces it with the Hibrix sprayed on the ground.

The farmer is not at risk and is assisted by the Hibrix Growth System that monitors the program. Normally farmers dedicate 20 hectares to the trial. Hibrix Sales Py Ltd provides the product, the farmer pays only the delivery from Perth to site.

Any broadacre crop is satisfactory. The farmer needs no change of equipment.

Reference the website: www.hibrix.com
F.Pownall 089279089

Event we'll be attending - Sydney Soil Security Symposium


Sounds dry, but I do believe these guys are attempting to move to a greater understanding of the soil. Has a good session the evening before entitled ‘why aren’t we talking about soil?’ (why indeed?) 

The University of Sydney’s 2012 Agriculture and Environment Research Symposium willdiscuss the development and establishment of international research and policy agreementson soil security.

More Information.

Snippets


You probably all know this story, but wouldn't it be good if we avoided the same problem in the soils debate? Can we be leaders, just for once? 
Two major solar technologies that were starved of funds in Australia have succeeded offshore; thin-film solar photovoltaic technology was picked up by a young Chinese PhD student attending the University of NSW. He returned to China and developed Suntech Power, the world’s largest producer of solar PV panels. It has made Dr Zhengrong Shi one of the richest men in China - The Conversation 160412.

Coal Seam Gas companies in Queensland are examining the possibility of growing saltbush as fodder, irrigated by the saline water extracted with the gas - ABC 260412.

Next Newsletter


Do you need an Australian Financial Services Licence for your Carbon Farming Initiative Plans? 

Feel free to contact us with any queries on the CFI; experiences, struggles or just anything you'd like to share. 

‘Til next time... Remember, as Kit Pharo said, “everything you get from the government was taken from someone else.” - hopefully someone who can afford it!

Last, last thing: The beauty of pollination (thanks to Caroline Ditchfield – FTSU)

Global Warming good for soil carbon traders

Thursday, June 14, 2012
GOOD NEWS for farmers who choose to trade soil carbon offsets: Global Warming will increase soil carbon sequestration rates for decades ahead, according to a recent research results summarized by the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change (CO2science.org). As the CO2 levels in the atmosphere increase, most plants increase photosynthetic rates to produce greater amounts of biomass. This leads to greater inputs of carbon to the soil from roots, root exudates and dead above-ground plant material. It’s not just about more biomass, either. 

CO2 enrichment typically reduces decomposition rates of dead plant materials present in soils.  This phenomenon often leads to greater soil carbon sequestration. Scientists have concluded that,  in spite of predicted increases in temperature , this stimulation of the below-ground carbon sequestration could exert a negative feed-back on the current rise of the atmospheric CO 2 concentration. Finally, with more carbon in soils, soil structure and fertility should be improved, providing a positive feedback that further enhances plant growth and soil carbon sequestration. 

Carbon Farming: “Show Me The Money”

Wednesday, June 13, 2012
“By farmers, for farmers” is our motto. We are farmers. Everything we do and have done in the past 6 years ago to get a market started has been to see farm carbon offsets traded and farmers paid fairly for carbon captured and emissions avoided. Carbon farming is now law. The next task is to make sure farmers will want to get involved. Farmers are saying: “Show Me The Money”. This ‘quick-read report’ tells you about 5 ways we are doing this.

  • The Money Tree – The first CFI activity available to the average farmer is environmental plantings. To make it easier for landholders to come to grips with this opportunity we are working on a guidebook called The Money Tree which translates the ‘meth’* into simple ‘how to’ language. It looks at the CFI planting opportunity as well as other ways to make money from trees on farm. Out soon.

  • Opening the Market – Carbon Farmers of Australia has opened an account on an offsets register (Markit Environmental Registry, a robust global registry to provide transparency and credibility) which enables us to assist landholders to sell their offsets. We have also opened an account with the Carbon Trade Exchange so we can purchase offsets on behalf of organizations wanting to ‘go Carbon Neutral’. And we are applying to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission to be registered to provide financial services in emissions units.

  • Soil Carbon Methodology News – Our ‘meth’ has been before the expert panel** and we are working on responding to its requests. We are almost ready to go back to them, once we have nailed the measurement of methane by fitting in with the National Inventory Report methodology (which is designed to report Australia’s National Greenhouse Accounts to the IPCC rather than to measure one farm’s emissions). We are in touch with others working on other soil carbon meths. And we have been told that ‘the Department’ is developing protocols for measurement of soil carbon. (There are at least 3 scientists working on seperate measurement solutions.) It’s the Holy Grail of soil science. There are some fascinating facts about how wool is measured. (See below.***) The most important feature of our meth is the way it uses the wool industry’s solution to a similar problem to ‘defang’ the 100 Year Rule, which we believe removes a major barrier to farmer involvement.

  • Positive List News – For a land management activity (such as bioferts or tillage innovations) to be part of a CFI methodology so farmers can use it to earn offset credits it must first be accepted onto the Positive List. This is a list of activities that the Government has accepted as “Additional” (or capable of producing genuine abatement). If the activity can prove that it is not “common practice” (adopted by less than 5% of farmers in a market or location), it could be accepted for the Positive List (so long as it is not on the Negative List). We are assisting several innovators to prepare their submissions because we believe the more options that farmers have, the more farmers will get involved.

  • Going Carbon Neutral – To help build the market for CFI farm offsets in the voluntary market, we are offering companies wishing to go Carbon Neutral guidance to achieve that goal. Our first client is a bulk haulage company in regional NSW. The process is complex and difficult, but so is everything else to do with the CFI. We have established the baseline, estimated the changes the company will make to reduce emissions, identified the offsets to be purchased to bridge the gap, had a site visit by the verifiers (GHD – one of the world’s leading environmental auditors) and we are responding to their recommendations next week.

  • Don’t Be Put Off – For every negative you might hear about the CFI there is a positive that is not being mentioned. (See an example below.****) The CFI is about innovation which means solutions to problem. The negative voices are not involved in the CFI processes.  The positive are inside the process, making it better.

  • Your Questions – There is a lot to be confused about in the CFI, especially in the “show me the money” issues.. Call 02 6374 0329 or email with your questions.
* A ‘meth’ is a methodology or set of rules a farmer must follow to make money from the CFI.

** The DOIC – Domestic Offsets Integrity Committee. In the period between the return of our meth and our response the Interim DOIC has been replaced by the Permanent DOIC, which has at least three new members who have soil/agricultural expertise, including the Chairman Professor Timothy Reeves an international consultant with expertise in the development and extension of sustainable agricultural productions systems and crop-livestock integration. He is a Professorial Fellow at the Melbourne School of Land and Environment, a director of The Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Centre, was a Senior Expert for the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and was formerly the Director-General of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre. Professor Lynette Abbott is the Vice Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Science and Professor in the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Western Australia. Dr Tony Press was the Director of the Cooperative Research Centre for the Sustainable Development of Australia’s Tropical Savannas.

*** Like carbon in soil, wool is an extremely variable commodity. A 21 micron wool may have a spread of fibres from 11 microns to 37 microns, according to the Australian Wool Testing Authority. “Wool is an extremely variable commodity and wool testing is used to provide an estimate of its properties based on a sample taken from the bulk. Because wool is variable, no two samples are the same.” To overcome the problem buyers would have wit uncertainty, the industry used a statistical device called the Coefficient of Variation of Diameter. It is a measure of the variation in micron measurements along and between individual fibres, relative to the average (or mean) fibre diameter.” The precision of an individual test result is usually expressed in Confidence Limits. Normally, the precision of a test result is defined in terms of 95% Confidence Limits, i.e., the limits on either side of the "true" result within which you can expect 95% of any repeat measurements to lie.

**** You might get the impression from some presentations about the CFI that the odds are you would be paying back offsets you earned because fire wiped out your trees. The facts are these: Between 2001 and 2005, only 2.5% of Australia’s forests were impacted by wildfire each year. The odds are 37 to 1 of a fire event. The majority of wildfires do not kill the trees. The CFI requires that dead trees be replanted. The odds of that happening are far longer than you’d get on a roughie in the first at Randwick next Saturday, not Black Caviar’s @ $1.10, which is the impression given by some presenters. 

Could you be on the Positive List?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Could your product or practice be eligible to appear on the Carbon Farming Initiative Positive List? Companies and individuals who have innovative carbon farming practices or products that reduce emissions or sequester carbon can apply. The benefits for you are these: 
  1. Being on the Positive List certifies that your product or practice is not common practice and that emissions avoided or sequestered via them have been declared "Additional" by the Minister.
  2. Being on the Positive list means your product or practice can be used as part of a 'methodology' for a offsets project under the Carbon Farming Initiative. (The Government recently announced grants to help innovators write up their brilliant products and practices into methodologies (or "meths"), with the help of scientists and other experts.
  3. You could earn royalties every time your innovation is used, if you have genuine intellectual property in your "meth".
Go to the Positive List page on the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency website, download the Positive List Guidelines and the short Positive List Proposal Form and fill it out. It is easy to be confused. For instance, the Guidelines state that offsets "will not be available for projects that are required by law" in one place, and "activities that are required by law" will be listed "in some circumstances"in another. So, if your product or practice is mandated by regulation, don't let that stop you. Contact the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency on (02) 6159 7000 to ask what those "circumstances" are. 

The other barrier to listing is "common practice" - ie. if the activity is already widely adopted. It is assumed that once between 10% and 30% of landholders in a location or industry or "environment" have taken up the practice - in order to earn offsets - the balance will adopt it without the incentive of the offsets and therefore the emissions avoided or sequestered resulting would have happened anyway and are therefore not additional. An activity can be uncommon for all sorts of reasons: it is unusual in certain regions; it is unusual on the scale proposed; it is unusual at a particular time; it is a genuine variant of an activity. "The activity must be carefully defined to allow for an accurate assessment of whether or not it is not already common," says the Guidelines. This means you should be very specific defining your activity. It is recommended that you identify a relevant comparison group of non-users to "capture the circumstances in which the activity is uncommon". 

The Government will be surveying farmers every couple of years to get a picture of penetration of activities. This is important to understand: your activity can be delisted as soon as it looks like being a success. But the benefits of being on the Positive List outweigh the difficulties.