Carbon Farming Knowledge

Farm Advisors get the knowhow on carbon farming

Forty-five farm advisors attended the first workshop at the Waite Institute in Adelaide as part of building their skills and knowledge in carbon farming.

The workshop was well received with a range of quality presenters covering climate science, soil carbon science and nitrous oxide management. In addition the Carbon Farming Initiative was put in context, and the potential opportunities for involvement of broad acre farming were discussed.

Advisers_Advisers WS_Nov 2013

The advisers came from across South Australia, western Victoria, Tasmania and a group representing the cotton industry from Narrabri in north west NSW. The advisers included farm business consultants, livestock and agronomic consultants. They are part of a three year intensive project on building farmer and adviser knowledge in carbon farming.

Some of the feed back from the workshop included “Excellent independent, scientific data on the technical side of the workshop” and “Great “crap” filter in presentations – clear knowledge gained for transfer to clients.”

The open discussion in the workshop assisted in clearing up some of the concerns of climate science and where carbon farming is heading.

On climate science the discussion centred around:

  • It is real and is man made. Lots of evidence available now. The info is unequivocal
  • General public still skeptical – only 30-50% of the population believes in/ acknowledges climate change
  • Spring temperature increase
  • Possible impacts on crop and animal production
  • Temperature is increasing and variability of rainfall is happening
  • Tropics are expanding by ½ a degree per decade
  • Highest CO2 levels ever
  • Agriculture must be a net carbon sink
  • There is a lag time- we are doing this for the long term. Question whether if we can recover?
  • Using analogies (eg car in sun with windows down, build up of heat vs leaving windows open creating a avenue for heat loss) is a useful delivery method
  • Warmer climate doesn’t mean less frost
  • Climate change means more extremes
  • Temperature change predictions more accurate than rainfall (more variable)
  • Need to incorporate climate change into risk management
  • Extremes- temperate/ rain etc increasing impact on farming? Variability
  • Natural variability clouds the message
  • The climate is moving north
  • Greater confidence in measuring change and impact

Soil carbon:

  • Soil carbon takes a long time to change
  • Nutrients are required to build soil carbon
  • Measuring soil carbon accurately (base line and change) is difficult .
  • 30cm? International standard
  • Carbon Credit scheme may not provide incentive yet but there are still production benefits
  • Farmers are paid to export carbon- until that changes there will be no charge
  • Mineralisation prediction will help increase efficiency
  • Soil carbon accumulation can only occur at 0.2-0.6 tonnes C/ha/yr
  • Some soil have the capacity to store more  (historically had more) but may be difficult to achieve and make money
  • Need to measure to 30CM for carbon accounting
  • N Pool calculation heavily reliant on knowing soil organic fractions

Nitrous Oxide:

  • Losses via volatalisation are far less from surface applied area than previously thought
  • Losses from denitrification are not only in the form of N2O
  • Nitrogen use efficiency is ordinary
  • Increase soil C can increase N2O (much worse)
  • That N2O is roughly 300 times more potent as a greenhouse gas compared with C02
  • N in organic matter has to be processed through the soil microbial population before it is available and many factors drive that especially C:N balance
  • Different forms of carbon will influence possible losses
  • Lots of opportunity to be more efficient
  • Inhibitors may have a place in highly water logged soils as they dry out
  • Split N and Inhibitors can reduce N2O
  • The N2O losses in lower rainfall are insignificant
  • N rate is a key driver of N2O emissions

Carbon Farming Knowledge Advisers Workshop, Adelaide

Farm advisers form across south eastern Australia and north west NSW take part in the first Carbon Farming Knowledge Advisers Workshop in Adelaide.



H2 Other People Are Saying

  • Simon Severin

    15. 04. 2014, 00:06

    The CFI project offered the opportunity to dispel climate change and global warming myths. The scientific evidence was unbiased and was a reality check. Listening to the like of climatologist Darren Ray, speak of the 20% increase from 320 to 400ppm carbon since 1960 is a good starting point when challenging farmers to consider long term sustainability. Global population growth and the necessity to increase mechanisation and production will see acceleration in this issue. Was also a great opportunity to discuss with other consultants and form a base for the kind of discussion we will be having with our farmers.