Sunday, July 19, 2009

Vote for Soil Carbon before 23rd July

We need your vote for the Soil carbon entry in the Manchester report. Vote Here.

Bruce Ward and Tony Lovell are flying the flag for grassland restoration in the Guardian Newspaper's "Manchester Report". Over the weekend of July 4 and 5, twenty finalists (including Tony and Bruce), made 30 minute presentations to a panel of four judges, introducing Soil Carbon to the panel and the audience.

The panel was led by Lord Bingham, the former Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Bryony Worthington, an advisor and policy expert on climate change to the British Government, Dan Reicher, a Californian director of Google, and Chris Goodall, author of several major books on climate change and a freelance journalist.
You can see a 1-minute grab summarising our presentation by going to
The panel met and boiled the 20 presentations down to a final list of 10. Soil Carbon made the cut.

Now there is a public vote

Bruce explains why they entered:
"Tony and I are seriously concerned that most people throughout the world are totally unaware of the need for farmers to move from being 'part of the problem' to become recognised as a vital 'part of the solution'. Soil Carbon provides that opportunity, so long as policy makers allow it. Time is running short, and Copenhagen is not far away. The die will be cast one way or the other at that time, and we want it to be cast the right way. We may need more science before we get the detail right, but it is clear that the science can now be done. That is a major step forward from only 2 years ago when we were consistently told it could not be done."

Friday, July 03, 2009

Dear Mr Rudd

Dear Mr Rudd,

We note with enthusiasm the treatment of farmers in the US Emissions Trading Scheme legislation which passed in the Congress recently. We commend to you the following provisions in that legislation and seek your support for similar provisions to be inserted in the Carbon Pollution Removal Scheme legislation which will go before the Senate of the Commonwealth in August:

1. The American Farmer is to be rewarded with tradeable carbon offsets for reducing emissions. The Australian Farmer is to be penalised for emissions caused by the natural biological cycles that govern Agriculture.

2. The American Farmer will receive carbon credits for practices they have put in place back to 2001. The Australian Farmer who has been a good steward to the environment will be penalised for their efforts under the Additionality provisions of the standard Kyoto arrangements for offsets, were an offset program introduced.

3. The USDA, not the EPA, will be the lead agency on running the offset program and conducting the rulemaking. In Australia, the Department for Climate Change and Water has proved incapable of meaningful consultation and engagement with the industry at farmer level.We recommend that the responsibility for these matters be passed to the Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Hon. Tony Burke.

4. The world's farmers are to be covered by a global agreement on emissions and sequestration, if the International Federation of Agricultural Producers' campaign is successful. Currently, Australian farmers would be covered by a local cap and trade scheme, along with only one other country: New Zealand.

It is our submission that responsibility for the portfolio be transferred immediately and that new provisions be prepared as amendments to the CPRS legislation prior to the bill reaching the Senate, those provisions to reflect the US legislation.

Yours sincerely,

The Carbon Farmers

The future ain't what it used to be

Minister Wong must be feeling shock as Agriculture slips out of her grasp under the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. But she and her advisers failed to imagine the future. Six factors were overlooked in the Minister’s analysis of the future:

Factor 1: American Pride.

To anyone who has been looking, it was obvious that the Americans would not simply rubber stamp Kyoto, a Euro-centric arrangement rejected by the USA in the first round. American pride demanded that they submit to the demands of the global community on their own terms.

Factor 2: American domestic politics.

This means American domestic politics would drive the agenda. The farm lobby in the USA is the strongest in the world. It may be hard for Australians to understand the respect shown to Agriculture and its representatives there, given the disregard encountered here. The American farmer would not be hung out to dry – paying for methane and nitrous oxide while being denied soil carbon credits, like the Australian farmer. The US legislation passed last week effectively decouples agricultural emissions from sequestration. Farmers will not be held responsible for emissions generated from the processes of growing food. And the Americans are calling on the world to have a global arrangement for Agriculture.

Factor 3: Global Food politics

The third factor stood out like the proverbial on April 4 in Bonn when – while Penny Wong’s chief adviser was in the next room discussing administrative matters – a gathering which included the USA, the EU, the World Bank, the International Federation of Agricultural Producers, and the UN Food & Agriculture Organisation – informed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the Masters of Kyoto) that they intended to push for Agriculture to be given special status. The reason given was the looming food crisis facing the global community. The FAO had been conducting a series of consultations and workshops – the Carbon Coalition was involved in the USA series – around the world to build momentum towards Copenhagen in December 2009. These meetings were public knowledge.

Factor 4: Australia’s isolation

Minister Wong’s plan for including Agriculture in a cap and trade regime – like any other industrial emitter - astounded other nations gathered to submit a proposal to the Copenhagen round of talks last week. According to one report, only Australia and NZ’s governments have done it. It is hard to imagine this injustice being allowed to continue in the light of world opinion. The powerful Iowa and Illinois Corn Growers Association – in their draft Agricultural Soil Credit Standard released in May 2009 – argued that agrculture does not fit into the current model because of the many variables at play in natural systems. The International Federation of Agricultural Producers agreed, saying the ‘specificity’ of agriculture has to be recognised: “Agriculture is different by nature and must be differentiated from other sectors. Most of agriculture’s green house gas (GHG) emissions are directly linked to natural biological cycles. The future accounting framework should allow a distinction to be made between anthropogenic and non-anthropogenic emissions. Farmers cannot be held accountable for natural biological processes. The origin, monitoring and reporting of emissions from agricultural land is inherently different from those associated with fossil fuels. Agriculture should not be penalized for natural emissions that are beyond human control, independent from management effects. Natural emissions are due to climate conditions such as variable rainfall, drought and bushfires."

Factor 5: Australian domestic politics

The Farm Institute’s Mick Keogh predicted the almost complete anihilation of Agriculture when the imposts of a climate change ‘tax’ on emissions are added to the reductions in production projected as a result of declining rainfall and increasing temperatures (already experienced). Senator Bill Heffernan says Australian farmers will be killed on world meat markets if they have to pay for animal methane while countries such as America and Brazil (with 3 times the number of cattle) and India (10 times the number of cattle) do not. Australian producers would also face US competitors without the credits for reductions in emissions that US farmers wll enjoy. The decimation of the Agriculture Sector in the name of climate purity would not be acceptable to the electorate. But the Rudd/Wong line on Agriculture has not been open to negotiation. Minister Wong made that clear. The Government left the door open for the Opposition to take up the cause of soil carbon – which it did with the eager assistance of the Carbon Coalition.

Factor 6: The world is waking up to the power of soils.

The FAO says that the mitigation potential of agriculture is estimated to reach 5.5-6 Gt of CO2eq. per year by 2030 . This potential is enormous relative to agriculture’s emissions which represent 13.5% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). 89% of this potential can be accounted for by soil carbon sequestration; 70% of the total mitigation potential can be realized in developing countries. Many studies acknowledge that GHG sequestration by agriculture is a quick and cost-effective means to mitigate emissions, e.g. document FCCC/TP/2008/8 and work by the IPCC . Significant benefits associated with soil organic carbon storage make sustainable land management a solution to the inter-related issues of poverty, resilience and sustainable development.
1.‘Enabling Agriculture to Contribute to Climate Change Mitigation’, FAO submission to the UNFCCC, January 2009, fig. IPCC 2007
2 According to the fourth report of the Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
4 IPCC 2007 Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution…

Having failed to imagine the future, Penny Wong and Assistant Minister for Climate Change, Greg Combet are still in a rush to put the noose around farmers’ necks, by passing legislation that will add to their costs while refusing to allow them to defray these costs by trading in soil carbon. Domestic offsets are not provided for.

Even Mick Keogh of the Farm Institute, whose main contribution to the debate has been as the purveyor of worst case scenarios supplied by ABARE and the CSIRO, concedes that the game has changed. Kyoto is not The 10 Commandments. It was an agreement for a period of time. Now Copenhagen will forge a new Kyoto. Noting the starkly different treatment of farmers in the USA and Australia, the Farm Institute cannot bring itself to ask the obvious question: Why?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Carbon Farming Conference November 4-5, 2009

This year's conference will be held in the run up to Copenhagen and the launch of the Australian Voluntary Soil Carbon Market.
The world's politicians have woken up to the fact that food is a Climate Change hot button. Humanity can adapt to many changes, but it cannot go without food... SO the soil carbon market is coming and we must prepare. All sessions this year will be practical: how to increase soil carbon, how to get involved, etc.

Members are invited to comment and make recommendations.

CONFERENCE THEME: Fix The Soil. Feed The World. Save The Planet.
CONFERENCE CONTENT: Showcasing the latest in science, farmer innovation, trading opportunities and carbon farming methodologies.
CONFERENCE VENUE - Orange Field Day Site.
CONFERENCE FORMAT: Two day seminar, with break out sessions.
POST CONFERENCE BUS TRIP: Optional one day bus tour to surrounding properties.
CONFERENCE AWARDS: Annual Carbon Cocky awards

SPEAKERS: The top experts in their fields are being invited.
TOPICS: Soil Carbon Strategies

Soil Carbon Standards: Who Has One? How Do You Get One?
Soil Carbon Practices: How Do They Fit Together
Soil Carbon Biology: How to Manage Your Microbes
Soil Carbon & Water: How To Read Your Landscape
Soil Carbon & Weeds: What Is Your Vegetation Trying To Tell You?
Soil Carbon & Food: How To Grow Healthy Humans
Soil Carbon & Trees: How To Mix and Match Vegetation
Soil Carbon & Science: How To De-Code Scientific Reports
Soil Carbon Trading: What's The Deal? Who Gets What?
Soil Carbon Research: What Happened To The Money?
Soil Carbon & Manure: Dung Beetles
Soil Carbon & Horticulture: Big Results From Small Areas
Soil Carbon Baselining: How To Get Started
Soil Carbon & BioFerts: How To Choose
Soil Carbon & Soil Type: What's The Limit?
Soil Carbon & Biodiversity: How to Measure Your Progress
Soil Carbon & Production: How To Get A Premium For Your Produce
Soil Carbon & Permaculture: How Does It Help?
Soil Carbon & Fire: When Is It Cool To Burn?
Soil Carbon & Biochar: How Does it Work?


Compost tea making.
Vehicle emissions burial as fertiliser.
Soil core sampling.
Soil biology under the microscope.
Notill/nokill sowing.
Emissions Calculators.


Microscope photographs of your soil microbes available.


Use a carbon calculator to estimate your likely position.

CONFERENCE DINNER: Carbon Cocky Awards.

Peter Andrews on Australian Story again... and again

The first of the NEW two part Australian Story on Peter Andrew’s NSF will be shown on ABCTV this coming Monday 6 July followed by the second part on the 13 July 09 at 8pm.