- Soil microbes are responsible for them.
- Soil carbon increases are the key.
“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.
- Balance in the microbial community is critical: “upsetting the balance or sterilising the soil can cause the disease to strike with a vengeance”.
- 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”
- 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 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.
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
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!
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.
NEWS FROM THE HUB OF
CARBON FARMING AND TRADING - ENVISIONING THE FUTURE
or, Muses from the brain of a deranged ‘carbon-a-holic’
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 email@example.com or 02 6374 0329.
News from the biosequestration 'enablers' - Let's get biological sequestration mainstream!
Composts, soil conditioners and mulches Standard
The rhizosphere, microbiota and plant health
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.
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.
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.
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
- The project involves a methodology that has potential for application across an region or industry because the abatement activity or activities:
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
Event we'll be attending - Sydney Soil Security Symposium
The University of Sydney’s 2012 Agriculture and Environment Research Symposium willdiscuss the development and establishment of international research and policy agreementson soil security.
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?
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.
Do you need an Australian Financial Services Licence for your Carbon Farming Initiative Plans?
‘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!
- 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.
** 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- You could earn royalties every time your innovation is used, if you have genuine intellectual property in your "meth".
- Step 1. Trees on farm. Identify a small area that could benefit from planting native trees. It could be a recharge zone causing salt expression further down the slope. It could be a erosion zone that needs to be stablilised. You could chose to plant 10ha-20ha, but make it part of a larger plan for your farm, a plan you could execute as you become more comfortable with the process.
- Step 2. Reduction in nitrous oxide emissions from fertiliser application. (At least two methodologies should be available later this year.) This can be done in any number of ways: straight reduction in NPK fertiliser; shift to precision application; part-replacement of fertiliser by bioferts; full replacement of fertiliser with biofert.
- Step 3: Reduction in methane emissions from livestock. (Methodology coming.)
- Step 4: Soil carbon sequestration. By this time you have had a chance to get used to the culture of the CFI - measuring and reporting on the activities; the concept of 100 Years; the production benefits of soil carbon, etc. You earn instant offsets for the emissions avoidance activities (nitrous oxide and methane) and delayed offsets (eg. 5 years, etc.) for carbon captured and held in vegetation and soils.
- LETS CELEBRATE FARMERS FIGHTING GREENHOUSE
- 10 QUESTIONS TO ASK A CARBON ADVISOR AND FIELD DAY PROGRAM ANNOUNCED!
- Whats a 5-10 year Government guaranteed contract with a set price worth to you?
- 3 Weeks to go! Program announced. Still the only thorough education around!
- Farmers of Australia, start building your carbon plan... now!
- I'VE GOT ANTS IN MY PANTS! Next round of ERF due before end of year.
- Question: What Stands About 5 foot nothing tall and has the energy of 10 men?
- So HOW DO I APPLY FOR THIS CARBON TRADING?
- How can I earn a Carbon Credit - Let me count the ways!
- COME ON, THIS IS NOT ROCKET SCIENCE!
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