Sunday, March 21, 2010

"Potential" to be false and misleading

Industry & Investment NSW (I&I NSW) scientists claim that they have revealed the potential for storing carbon in soil to reduce the impact of climate change. “We have spent three years studying carbon in soils and now have sufficient data available to assess the potential of soil as a carbon sink for mitigating the effects of climate change," says leader of the project, Dr Yin Chan.
Let's get this straight: No attempt has been made to test the 'potential' sequestration capability of Australian soils. And there is no work underway that will reveal it. There is no attempt to study the impact of biological farming on its own and, more to the point, there is no plan to study 'portfolio planning' or combinations of land management practices that complement and reinforce each other to maximise soil C sequestration. This is the reality on the farm. This is what Carbon Farmers do. (Eg. At "Uamby' we use grazing management pasture cropping and probiotic innoculants, on the same piece of ground.) We have developed the Soil Carbon Optimising Tool to help farmers build a carbon farm plan to 'mix and match' their sequestration techniques. So while Science is measuring the potential of the past, we are seeking to live the potential of the present while helping to create the future.
MOTIVATION: Ponder for a moment the meaning behind the act of declaring the limits of the potential of our soils and our management to sequester carbon. It is like telling an Olympic athlete before they compete that they can only run so fast, no faster. Why demotivate the athlete when the goal is higher, further, faster... and our goal is a safer world? Science seems to be constantly in the sideline, urging us to fail. Rarely bringing us ideas to help us achieve more.

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