Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Latest Coalition Newsletter

Carbon Coalition Against Global Warming
Newsletter March 2007

Please pass this letter along to your contacts. We are building out database of supporters and need your help. Thank You!


A Year On… Soil C on the Map
Still Seeking Scientific Measurement
Debunking the Soil C Myth
First Soil C Sales
We Make A Market
Register NOW to Sell your Soil C
Initiative: Soil-C-Central
Donations Needed
12 Month Activity Report
List of Coalition Blogsites
Soil C Can Be Measured For Trading

Greetings! It’s been a long time…

Sorry it’s been a long time between drinks. We have been incredibly busy, what with the drought and climate change issues and Coalition work. We hope you have been able to stay in touch via the blogsites. A major computer crash disappeared your contact details until earlier today when we were able to reload a list that is a little shorter than it was, but most of you are still there. If you know of someone who was on the Coalition list, please ask them if they received this and, if not, ask them to register again, please.

Happy Anniversary!

Last month we passed our first year as an organization. At the end of this newsletter is an Activity Report which touches briefly on the work of the Convenors, the Advisory Council, and Members.

We’ve come a long way from where we were a year ago. For most of the time since February 2006, we have been dismissed as lunatic fringe dwellers pushing an impossible dream and creating unreal expectations among landholders. All that has changed…

Soil Carbon Credits on the radar

• This week – only 3 days ago – the Carbon Coalition presented the soil carbon case to a press conference at Parliament House in Sydney, the event organised by the NSW National Party to launch its soil carbon trading policy. The Coalition provided the substance for that policy. The NSW Nats are the first political party to adopt the Coalition’s position.

• Two days ago the NSW Farmers’ Association passed a motion that commits it to seeking incentives for curbing emissions. Earlier in the NSW Election campaign President Jock Laurie called for a carbon trading scheme for soils. The Coalition has briefed Jock several times in the past 12 months, and also briefed the Wellington Branch members who originally took the motion to the State Conference.

• In the previous month, Australian of the Year Tim Flannery made a statement supporting the soil carbon trading concept after receiving briefing material from the Coalition via another Coalition – Patrice Newell’s Climate Change Coalition, which is standing 21 candidates for the NSW Upper House.

• Carbon Coalition Convenor Michael Kiely and CC Member Bruce Ward are standing for the CCC as a platform to promote Carbon Farming and Soil Carbon Trading. Tim Flannery has endorsed the CCC and greeted the founding of the Carbon Coalition with a public endorsement back a year ago.

• Also in February, the NSW Commissioner for Natural Resources John Williams came out in favour of soil carbon credits at $25/tonne. The Coalition has made another friend.

• More recently, the Federal Shadow Minister for the Environment Peter Garret said: “Why did Campbell hate you?” when the Convenors introduced themselves at Rockhampton Airport last Saturday, after delivering a 4 hour seminar on carbon trading to an RCS gathering in Yeppoon. Mr Garrett indicated he read our blogsite regularly. “I keep up with your stuff…” (Campbell was the former Federal Minister for the Environment, Senator Ian Campbell, who refused to meet with us and fobbed us off with meaningless letters stating implacable resistance to carbon trading. We blogged his demise only two days before the Garrett meeting.) We also met Kevin Rudd at the same time and registered the Coalition with him.

• Rod Rush put together a brilliant briefing paper to present to the Federal Minister for Agriculture, then the climate sceptic Ian MacFarlane (which was ignored and dismissed.) Rod’s work was so useful we were able to use it as the Coalition’s submission to the National Emissions Trading Scheme enquiry. Thanks Rod. (The Coalition’s 2 submissions were the only ones dealing with agricultural issues.)

• Late last year, in December, Bruce Ward and Tony Lovell arranged for the Coalition to present its argument to the NSW Premier’s Advisory Panel of Climate Change. Many opportunities have arisen as a result.

• Earlier, in November, at Christine Jones’ Carbon Forum in the ACT we were able to present the Coalition’s position to MP for New England Tony Windsor who subsequently asked the Prime Minister a question in Parliament which flushed the PM out on carbon markets.

So, important people are now talking about soil carbon credits. Thank you to everyone who opened doors for us: Mark Roberts, Hamish Munro, Christine Jones, Rod Rush, Maartin Stapper, all the good folk at the Central West CMA, John Lawrie, Tom Gavel, Col Seis, David Marsh, Angus Maurice, Rick Maurice, Jane Wilson, John Muller, John Williams, Bruce Ward, Tony Lovell, Tom Green, and all the people who invited us to speak at gatherings across the nation. (Many names have been missed here. Apologies.) A special thank you should go to Rhonda Willson for a large donation towards Christine Jones’s research into the measurement issue.

Margaret Mead


The Holy Grail… Measurement

So we had two goals: 1. Establish the soil carbon market. 2. Gain access to the top value market. The biggest barrier is to be found with the scientists. Conventional wisdom says soil carbon is too “slippery” – or subject to flux – to measure definitively. We despaired recently when speaking to one of the leading soil scientists and he told us that the more they studied soil carbon the harder and more difficult it is to pin down. Remember this: in any conversation about measuring Soil C for trading, if you hear the word “accuracy” it spells doom. Based on a paper by Dr Brian Kimble of the US Dept of Ag, we advocate moving in the opposite direction: away from precision and towards practicality. (A short section of Dr Kimble’s paper is attached to this email.)

‘Remember this: in any conversation
about measuring Soil C for trading,
if you hear the word
“accuracy” it spells doom.’

We know of at least 4 or 5 trials that are underway to prove up MMV systems (Measurement, Monitoring, Verification). We wish them the best because we need a system, and we will rejoice the moment IPART (Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal) approves a system.

The Coalition (including several leading ‘carbon farmers’) will be attending a ‘summit’ with a group of prominent soil scientists on 22 March, 2007 in Dubbo. The Coalition will be seeking a practical solution and hopes this meeting is a watershed in the journey towards full value/direct measurement soil carbon trading.

CCX order for 25000 acres

While we were in the USA in October, we managed to secure the first order for Australian till to no till soil. The only technical detail we needed to fulfil was to provide “peer reviewed data” that validated the 0.5t/acre/year rule of thumb US farmers were trading under. While this sounds like an easy task, we ran into a wall of costs and confusion. We need to be able to pay for a scientist to extract the necessary data from the Australian Greenhouse Office data sets.

The Coalition has no financial resources (especially after funding the USA trip and most speaking engagements to date). So we will be embarking on a fundraising campaign to overcome this frustrating blockage. This issue will also be raised during our ‘summit’ with the soil scientists.

Soil scientists can save the world

This is the title for a new blogsite: http://soilsscientistscansavetheworld.blogspot.com/

It appeals to soil scientists to help solve the greenhouse gas emissions overload problem by contributing to a practical measurement solution. We are hoping to use every means to engage soil scientists to broaden their paradigm and help us develop a means for trading.

A major breakthrough

The biggest blockage to our progress is the officially-sanctioned myth about Australian soils that surfaced in the Australian Greenhouse Office and has since been promoted by the Australian Farm Institute. The AGO states: "Typically Australian soils have a poor capacity to store large quantities of carbon." This generalisation was based on the data sets developed over 10 years for the Carbon Accounting scheme.

Executive Director of the Farm Institute, Mick Keough, elaborated on the myth: “The bulk of Australian farms may not operate as carbon sinks, due to the age of the soils." This myth is promoted by the Institute in the form of papers by John Carter, MSc., former AGO scientist and currently Principal Scientist, OLD Department of Natural Resources and Water.

The myth carries the weight of science because it is based on ‘the data’. But if ‘the data’ was so reliable, why has the NSWDPI launched a set of trials to test soil carbon performance under various pasture management approaches in the last month?

Answer: There are gaps in the data sets. Gaps so big you could drive a carbon trading scheme through them. Working through the AGO Technical Reports, we noticed that what the data covered was largely business as usual land management – which we know is carbon depleting. There was little, if any evidence of ‘carbon farming’ techniques being included in the studies. This is understandable. Regenerative (soil C promoting) techniques were less familiar 10 years ago, and in all the Technical Reports, the scientists complained that they were constrained by time and resources from filling gaps in their data sets.

This is a major breakthrough for the Coalition.

The AGO is not aware of this deficiency in the data upon which public statements have been based. In the Coalition’s position paper, Rod Rush reports: “At the wind-up sessions of the Australian Greenhouse Office (AGO) in the middle of 2006 the CSIRO Land & Water project leader on soil carbon stated that it just was not possible to sequester carbon in soils at the rate necessary for it to be of advantage as a part solution to the problems of global warming. However, when the practices of “regenerative” agriculture were explained to him, and later to his successor, they expressed surprise and interest in conducting research into the contention that soil carbon levels can be raised, and raised quickly. There is currently no funding available for this project and to succeed in raising the required funds, years of prejudice have to be overcome.”

Coalition opens the Carbon Trading Register

The books are open for landholders to register their soils for soil carbon trading. The Carbon Coalition has several initiatives currently underway to generate demand for Australian Farm Soil Credits. A form will be posted on the website (www.carboncoalition.com.au) shortly. Please encourage your contacts to register. The more numbers we have a landholders demanding to be given access to trading, the more ‘weight’ we will carry in our battle with myths and prejudice. And the more likely we will attract support from buyers.

You can register two levels of involvement:

1. Growers who have soils on which land management has changed since 1990 (the baseline date used under the Kyoto Protocol):

• from till to no till cropping
• from cropping to pasture
• from set stocking to grazing management

2. Aggregators who can organise groups of growers into pools for trading purposes.

Creating demand for Australian Farm Soil Credits

The Convenors of the Carbon Coalition have launched two initiatives to generate orders for Australian Farm Soil Credits:

1. CarbonCreditedBrands: a service for corporates that guides them through the process of becoming carbon neutral and brings their customers, staff, suppliers, etc. with them on the journey. After the company’s emissions have been audited and all efforts made to bring them down by power savings, etc., the company chooses ‘abatements’ or ‘offsets’ (credits). The range of options includes Australian Farm Soil Credits.

2. Adopt A Farmer Fighting Greenhouse: a retail enterprise selling Australian Farm Soil Credits on the “voluntary” market for abatements. This is the fastest growing market overseas. “Voluntary” means the credits cannot be used to meet mandatory caps. They are chosen largely by consumers to offset their lifestyle emissions and by companies seeking to make a contribution to the battle against climate change. Voluntary Credits are usually bundled. Ours include Provisional Carbon Credits, a contribution to environmental restoration on farmland, and a contribution to the work of the Carbon Coalition in spreading the soil carbon message far and wide. Soil Credits offer the buyer unique benefits.

The first orders for both offerings have been received during a test marketing phase.

We hope to reduce the leakage of value to middlemen by offering growers the opportunity to have a share in the trading company.

But how will you measure it?

A ‘voluntary’ market product is often bundled with a donation to a cause. The precision required to sell a bare tonne of carbon is not required by the buyer. The AUSTRALIAN FARM SOIL CREDIT is based on the following indicators:

1. The history of soil management for the plot in question.
2. The history of soil management for the entire property.
3. The training record of the land manager.
4. The land management techniques used on the entire property.
5. The imputed increase in soil carbon in the plot in question over the period since the change in land management.
6. Membership of Carbon•Farmers™, a group of conservation land managers who are also actively working to restore the natural resource base.

AUSTRALIAN FARM SOIL CREDITS are Provisional Carbon Credits. They are set at a very conservative rate of 2 tonne per hectare where land management has changed since 1990 (the baseline date used under the Kyoto Protocol):

• from till to no till cropping
• from cropping to pasture
• from set stocking to grazing management

Each category represents an amount of greenhouse gas emissions not released, as well as an amount of soil carbon stored.

These categories are based on estimates published by the Australian Greenhouse Office: "The review clearly indicated that the introduction of a cropping phase into uncleared land or a well-established pasture with high plant biomass, reduced soil carbon density by 10 to 30 t/ha in soils to 30 cm depth... Likely changes in soil carbon densities associated with changes in soil tillage practices are of the order of 5 to 10 t/ha when they occur..." (National Carbon Accounting System, Technical Report No. 43, January 2005.) Our estimates are also informed by K.Y. Chan’s work on soil carbon levels under different land management methods in NSW which revealed that soil carbon levels were 2 to 2.7 times higher in pasture soil than in cropped soils, and significantly higher in minimum till than in conventional tillage soils. (Chan, K.Y. “Soil particulate organic carbon under different land use and management,” Soil Use and Management (2001) 17, 217-221.) Eminent soil C expert Professor Rattan Lal says: “Conversion from conventional till to no-till farming reduces emission by 30 to 35 kg C/ha per season. (“Soil Carbon Sequestration Impacts on Global Climate Change and Food Security,” Science, Vol 304, 11 June, 2004)

Once the science catches up, the surface area will be rescaled to meet the amount 'measured' in the soil below. Provisional Carbon Credits allows the Soil Storage of CO2 to start.

Initiative: Social-C-Central

Soil-C-Central is a MegaWeb site dedicated to Soil Carbon. It aims to provide landholders and those who advise them a central source of information about Soil C.

Its content will include: news; upcoming events, conferences and courses; new research findings and papers; new research studies and timetables for results; new websites; and new newsletters and publications.

The Soil C Library: will include Bibliographies - lists of publications; Academic papers; Articles; Interviews; Links; Websites; and Blogs.

A Soil-C-Community will be encouraged as a place where scientists, agronomists, and landholders and anyone interested can swap information and discuss issues. It might include Profiles of Members (voluntary); Notice Boards; Chat room; Online events; “Webinars”; etc.

This promises to be a great addition to the Coalition’s work, but there’s a cath… it will cost money.

Do you support the work of the Carbon Coalition?

The work of the Carbon Coalition has been entirely voluntary for the past year.

The Convenors have funded:

• lobbying,
• outreach,
• speaking engagements,
• website activity,
• blogging,
• research,
• overseas study tour,
• attending conferences to make contacts,
• appearing before official enquiries…

Please see the attached activity sheet. The time involved has grown to consume time previously devoted to income-producing activity.

We believe the mission of the Coalition is too important to wind down at this important point. The challenges landholders have coming up include:

1. Being fobbed off with Federal Government Stewardship Payments instead of carbon credits. These are a poor substitute for three reasons: i. it puts you in the hands of the public servants; ii. They could never be as lucrative; iii. They represent handouts, not payments for produce. We believe the Howard Government is implacably opposed to soil carbon credits. (Leopards don’t change their spots.)
2. Missing out on offsets when on-farm emissions are measured/estimated and landholders are required to buy credits to offset CO2, methane, nitrous oxide etc.
3. Put an end to the myth about Australian soils and carbon.
4. Force the hand of the regulators (IPART) by forming markets.
5. Promote the notion of Carbon Farming among business as usual growers.
6. Maintain pressure for Australia to join Kyoto.
7. Protect landholders from exploitation by unsympathetic middlemen and opportunists.
8. Teaching landholders about the carbon trading markets.

We need your help…

We need your help to achieve the goals of the Coalition:

• Making the family farm more viable
• Strengthening rural communities
• Restoring the ecological health of farmland
• Reducing the extremes of Climate Change

What we need resources for…

• Website development
• Membership database system
• Publicity
• Management
• Lobbying
• Research
• Conferences
• Subscriptions
• Travel/Acc

There is so much more we can do… getting Members involved in our activities is FIRST AND FOREMOST… but it takes time and time is always short when you’re short of money.


There are many ways you can help:

• You can send a cheque to the Carbon Coalition Against Global Warming C/- MB & AL Kiely, “Uamby”, Uamby Road, GOOLMA NSW 2852

• You will find a “Donate” button on the blogsite (http://carboncoalitionoz.blogspot.com), the website (www.carboncoalition.com.au) and on the other blogsites.

• You can buy Australian Farm Soil Credits from http://carbonfarmers.blogspot.com

• You can engage CarbonCreditedBrands by visiting http://carboncreditedhowto.blogspot.com

Your contribution is an investment in the greatest opportunity to solve the problems of declining land health, declining economic health, and declining personal health in agriculture.

Thank you for being part of this historic moment.

Michael, Louisa & Daniel Kiely

PS. Please pass this email letter on to others you may know who would be interested.

NB. YOUR TAX DEDUCTION: While we cannot offer tax deductibility as a CHARITY, we can arrange a deduction for you by the following means: 1. You make your contribution. 2. The Coalition invoices you for CARBON ADVISORY SERVICES (which is a legitimate part of our activities) and your receipt can be used for deduction.

Carbon Coalition Against Global Warming
Activity Report
February 2006-February 2007

February, 2006 - Launched Carbon Coalition at Central West Conservation Farmers’ Association conference.

Established blog site carboncoalitionoz.blogspot.com – posted 127 reports in 365 days

Established web site – carboncoalition.com.au – collected 600 email contacts in 12 months

April, 2006 - Recruited Coalition Council members as advisory board: David Marsh, Rick Maurice, Col Seis, Angus Maurice.

Reguler press releases to national and rural media. Interviews with media.

April, 2006 - Gain support from Tim Flannery, Author, The Weather Makers

Add extensive “Library” of scientific papers and links to website and blogsite.

26 May, 2006 – Form alliance with Peter Andrews, Natural Sequence Farming

27 May, 2006 - Make presentation at Manning Landcare event, Gloucester NSW

2 June, 2006 - Brief NSW Farmers’ Association, Jock Laurie and David Ayrs, Sydney NSW

Write “Open Letter to Soil Scientists” for Australian Farm Journal

5 July, 2006 – Brief Central West delegation to NSW Farmers’ Association Conference, Wellington NSW

14 July, 2006 – Presentation for CWCMA at Mudgee Small Farm Field Day

19 July, 2006 – Make presentation to Baradine Landcare Group, Baradine, NSW

July, 2006 - Make presentation to Land Management Workshop, Cobar Field Day

15 August, 2006 - Brief National Farmers’ Federation, David Crombie and Dr Vanessa Findlay, Canberra ACT

2 September, 2006 – Make presentation to Gulgong Anglican Church Men’s Meeting, Gulgong NSW

USA 3 week fact finding mission
18/19 September: Washington DC – attend 2006 Global CO2 Cap-And-Trade Forum
21/22 September: Bozeman, Montana - Big Sky Carbon Sequestration Partnership Phase 2 Project Management Plan Workshop
25 September: College Station, Texas - Professor Bruce McCarl, Department of Agricultural Economics, Texas A&M University
27 September: Albuquerque, New Mexico - Peter Holter, Holistic Management International
28 September: Albuquerque, New Mexico - Southwest Carbon Sequestration Partnership Phase 2 Project Management Plan Workshop
29 September: Swanton, Vermont - Address Farmers' gathering organised by Coalition member Abe Collins from Vermont.
1 October: Columbus, Ohio - Professor Rattan Lal (or colleague), Ohio State University
3 October: Chicago, Illinois – Mike Walsh, SVP, Chicago Climate Exchange

Susan Capalbo, Director, Big Sky Carbon Sequestration Partnership.
Pamela Tomski is Associate Director responsible for outreach and education, Big Sky Carbon Sequestration Partnership.
Dave Brown, Technical Lead, Terrestrial Sequestration with Big Sky.
Michael Bowman, Director, 25:25, a movement that aims to have 25% of America's fuel needs supplied by farmers in 25 years.
Ted Dodge, Director, National Carbon Offsets Coalition which brokered the first carbon credits paid to US farmers In Montana and Kansas.
Professor Bruce McCarl of Texas A&M University, climate economist on the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change.
Dr Rattan Lal, author of a small library of books and papers, co-author of many others, Professor of Soil Physics at the School of Natural Resources at Ohio State University, Columbus Ohio.
Dr Klause Lorenz, Senior Research Fellow, the School of Natural Resources at Ohio State University, Columbus Ohio.

Launched Carbon Coalition in USA - Abe Collins, Carbon Farmer and Convenor, Swanton, Vermont.

Attended and addressed 2 day Phase 2 Workshop in Albuqurque, New Mexico of the Southwest Regional Partnership.
Met with Head of Partnership, Dr Brian McPherson, from the New Mexico Institute of Technology in Socorro.
Met with Dr Joel Brown and Dr Jay Angerer, the 'soil carbon sequestration' experts with the Southwest Partnership.
Met with Peter Holter, Holistic Management International.

Secured first order for 25,000 acres Australian soil (till to no till) from CCX.

23 October, 2006 – Make presentation to Kingaroy Carbon Forum, Kingaroy QLD

Submission to Commonwealth Minister for Environment, Sen. Ian Campbell via Parliamentary Secretary Greg Hunt, MP.

Coordinated 8-farm application for CWCMA Round 5 funding for carbon farming soil trials.

4 November, 2006 - Attended the “WALK AGAINST WARMING”, the International Day of Action on Climate Change on Saturday, Sydney NSW

4 November, 2006 - Briefed Federal Shadow Minister for Environment, Anthony Albanese MP

13 November, 2006 – meet with NSW President Soil Science Society re peer reviewed data for CCX and Summit of scientists and Practitioners

25 November, 2006 – Make presentation to Cobar/Nyngan Landcare group

11 December, 2006 – attend National Emissions Trading Summit, Sydney NSW

29 December, 2006 - Submissions (2) to National Emissions Trading Scheme Inquiry, Sydney NSW

Second Submission to Commonwealth Minister for Environment, Sen. Ian Campbell

22/23 November, 2006 - Speak at 2006 National Carbon Forum Canberra ACT

Organising Summit between Soil Scientists and Practitioners (March 2007)

Briefed Tony Windsor, MP, Canberra ACT (subsequently asks PM a question in Parliament)

13 December, 2006 - Briefed NSW Premier’s Advisory Panel on Climate Change, Sydney NSW

19 December, 2006 - Briefed NSW Farmers’ Asociation’s Jock Laurie. Subsequently calls for soil carbon credits.

Briefed NSW National Party MPs responsible for natural resources management election platform, Sydney NSW

Stand for NSW Legislative Council elections for Climate Change Coalition as soil carbon advocate.

Presented at Managing Under Changed Climactic Conditions Conference, Bathurst NSW

9 February, 2007 - Address South Australian No Till Farmers’ Association, Tanunda, SA

13 February, 2007 – Met with Peter Holter and Judy Earl, Holistic Management International

14 February, 2007 - Briefed NSW Department of Primary Industries Farm Management Climate Change Risk Management Steering Committee, Orange NSW

Carbon Coalition Blogsites

• Carbon Coalition Against Global Warming


The best way to combat Global Warming short term is to reward farmers for cultivating deep-rooted perennial grass species and crops that can lock up vast amounts of carbon in the soil.

• Carbon Credits Government Watch


A shift in the Bush Administration's attitude to Carbon Credits is the key to the Australian farmers getting access to carbon credits for carbon sequestered in agricultural soils. As the pressure builds on President Bush, so the possibility of soil carbon credits comes closer to reality for Australian farmers. And with it, the possibility of regenerating our natural resources and saving the nation billions of dollars.

• FAQ Soil Carbon


Basic facts and frequently asked questions about carbon in soil, soil carbon sequestration and carbon credits

• Buy Carbon Credits from Carbon•Farmers


Soil Carbon Credits are the only weapon the world has to defeat Global Warming. Only soil can do the job. Soil Carbon Credits encourage "Carbon•Farmers" to farm for maximum Carbon lockdown. Carbon•Farming is in harmony with nature. An Australian Farm Soil Credit from a Carbon•Farmer is so much more than a carbon credit.

• Diary of a Carbon Farmer


This is the diary of an Australian family who escaped from the city, joined a farming community, and learned to love soil. Carbon Farming is about growing soil carbon - the first link in our food chain. The topsoil is where God's creation is taking place, at every moment. Carbon is the building block of life. By growing it we can restore ecosystems to health. At the same time we can remove Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere and store it as Carbon in the soil.

• Soil Scientists Can Save The World


How soils and the scientists who study them are the key to meeting the challenge of Climate Change and reversing environmental degradation over most of the Earth's surface.

• Soil Carbon Submission


NATIONAL EMISSIONS TRADING TASKFORCE - Submission written by Rod Rush on behalf of the Carbon Coalition Against Global Warming. A Response to the Discussion Paper on a Possible Design for a National Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme

• Forests kill communities


Plantation tree farms - misnamed "forests" - are sucking the life out of rural communities and devastating local economies while damaging the biological communities they invade and robbing wildlife of habitat. Tax- and carbon credit-driven schemes for making city investors rich are threatening to create ghost towns in diversity deserts.

• John Howard On Carbon Credits


This speech appears here in full until we can produce an edited version. It is valuable because it gives the reader an insight into the Prime Minister's strategy and could provide clues to achieving the Carbon Coalition's Vision by means other than a frontal attack on an immoveable object.

The Case for Averaging Soil C Sample Values to Enable Trading

Flux and soil variability are commonly used by opponents to trading in soil carbon. But one important US scientist argues for sanity to prevail: "It is often pointed out that soils have a large amount of variability, but with knowledge of soil sciences and landscapes, variability can be described and sampling protocols can be developed to deal with this," writes Dr John Kimble in a paper published this year*. "One reason I feel people say that soils vary and SOC cannot be measured is that we soil scientists focus on showing variability, not on showing what we know about the variability. In soils we can go to a 100m2 field and sample every square meter and look at the differences we find. But if you sample every tree in a large area you would see a similar variability." Dr Kimble works for the US Department of Agriculture, National Resources Conservation Service, National Soil Survey Centre, Lincoln, Nebraska. "We too often focus on this [variability], worry about laboratory precision and field variation and do not look at the real world where most things are based on averages and estimated data. We tend to focus on finding variation and not on using our knowledge of soil science to describe what we know. All systems vary, but in soils we focus on a level of precision and accuracy that may not have any relevance to the real world because we can take so many samples and look at the variation."

*Kimble, J., "Advances In Models To Measure Soil Carbon: Can Soil Carbon Really Be Measured?", in Lal, R., Cerri, C., Bernoux, M., Etchevers, J., and Cerri, E., eds., Carbon Sequestration in Soils in Latin America, Food Products Press, Birmingham, NY, 2006

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