AP - Farming Carbon In Australia
The clearing of farming land over the last four hundred years has released large quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This clearing and the subsequent decline in organic matter is estimated to have contributed almost twice the carbon released from fossil fuel use since 1850. The big opportunity is to reverse the decline of soil organic matter - storing carbon and the same time improving soil productivity. This potential to store carbon in Australia is lower than in temperate areas, such as the USA, where ten long-term studies of no-tillage show an increase of 0.6 t.carbon/ha/yr. A good outcome in Australia is a gain of 0.1-0.15 t. C/ha per year. While useful and much better than releasing carbon, this is not enough for farmers to receive a significant ‘carbon credit’ payment. Storing carbon is a win-win situation however – with improved organic matter resulting in better soil health and contributing to better crop yields. Saving energy on farms is also more profitable while reducing greenhouse emissions. A “Farming Carbon” program is being conducted by the author with 50 farmers in Queensland, helping them to monitor soil organic matter and discuss farming practices which can sequester carbon and save energy.
Keywords: carbon, energy conservation.