Friday, March 23, 2007

Christine Jones launches Australian Soil Carbon Accreditation Scheme

Soil carbon 'goldmine' for WA farmers

Farmers participating in an innovative WA soil carbon pilot project will receive $25 per tonne for carbon dioxide sequestered as organic matter in their soils.

Dr Christine Jones, CEO of Carbon For Life Inc, launched the Australian Soil Carbon Accreditation Scheme (ASCAS) at the 'Managing the Carbon Cycle' Workshop in Katanning 21-22 March.

"The Chicago Climate Exchange in North America has been trading in soil carbon with farmers in Canada, North America, Mexico and Brazil since April 2005" Dr Jones said.

"It's time for Australian farmers to be rewarded for improving their soils"

Every 2.7 tonnes of carbon sequestered in the soil is equivalent to 10 tonnes of carbon dioxide taken out of the atmosphere. Farmers participating in the ASCAS project will receive 'Soil Credits' worth $25 per tonne for this carbon dioxide.

Under the $1.3m ASCAS project, soil carbon levels will be measured under regenerative agricultural regimes across the continent, from the South Coast of Western Australia to North Queensland. The pilot trials in WA will be run in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture and Food (SCRIPT Soil Health Initiative), Evergreen Farming Group and the Northern Agricultural Catchments Council.

Project partner, DAFWA Senior Development Officer Tim Overheu, says landholders in the past have done little soil testing on a regular basis. "Historically they have known little about what is happening below the soil surface; instead focusing on the plant growing above it" he said.

"As a generalisation, the majority of landholders have a low understanding of 'cause and effect' of soil quality management and soil health".

According to Dr Jones, soil carbon sequestration can be relatively rapid under innovative regenerative management regimes.

"Organic carbon (such as humus) has many benefits in soils, making effective carbon management the key factor for productive farms, revitalised catchments and a greener planet."

"The ASCAS model will create a collaborative and progressive market-based instrument to help address a wide range of environmental issues" Dr Jones said.

"The establishment of this validated soil carbon trading model will be a first in the Southern Hemisphere - placing Australia among the world leaders in soil carbon trading development".

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