Monday, June 22, 2009

NSW DPI - mythbusters and all - welcome!

The following is from a NSW DPI "Science & Research - Climate Change: Key Issues" fact sheet ingeniously dated 2005 as proof that the agency has not been in deep denial about soil carbon trading until now.
"Mitigation options include ... management of crop, pasture and forest systems to enhance carbon stocks in vegetation and soil..."
" Of particular relevance to NSW DPI is emissions trading, which provides incentives for mitigation measures..."
"Sequestration through soil carbon management in agricultural systems and management of existing forests are flagged for future inclusion..."

Pro-soil carbon DPI scientists such as YN Chan and Annette Cowie have shone like beacons in the gloom surrounding the issue in the DPI which - as recently as a few months ago staged the amusing "Soil Carbon MythBusters" tour by BioChar devotee David Waters - short on soil C myths, long on Biochar promotion. And they said the tour was to clear up the 'misinformation' surrounding the issue.

Dr Cowie is behind the project in which a group of NSW soil scientists is overcoming barriers to inclusion of soil carbon in emissions trading. "Impacts of management practices on carbon sequestration in soil are unclear, with some proponents claiming large potential and others dismissing the possibility," says a DPI report.

Dr Cowie says: "Detractors additionally say soil carbon is too costly to measure, and changes in soil carbon too difficult to audit... In preparation for potential inclusion in the national Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in future, and for inclusion in the voluntary carbon trading market, it is important to investigate these objections." In the same way that carbon trading based on forestry offsets uses models to predict sequestration, soil carbon models can estimate sequestration through agricultural practices, she said. "To increase confidence about the potential for altered management practices to sequester soil carbon, researchers are undertaking paired-site studies, comparing the soil carbon stock between adjacent areas under different management," Dr Cowie said. Comparisons include high and low input grazing land management; conventional crop rotations versus response cropping or inclusion of pasture phase; and revegetation of grazing land with native tree and shrub species.

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