Wednesday, October 31, 2007

“Slash herd and flock numbers” says AGO

Dynamite Greenhouse Report Delayed For Election?

“Slash herd and flock numbers” says AGO

“What?” says The National Party.

The Australian Greenhouse Office is delaying the release of a report that recommends Australian graziers slash flock and herd numbers to reduce methane emissions.

“While we haven’t seen the document – which was due out a month ago and is apparently ‘delayed at the printer’ (wink) – we know the position of the scientists leading the methane team,” says Climate Change Coalition candidate for Parkes, Michael Kiely. “The document will say, first and foremost, we must run fewer animals.” (See Dr Richard Eckard reference below)

“Let’s hear what the National Party has got to say about that.”

“I’d like to know if the economics of these recommendations been analysed.” (See reference below)

“Will the Greenhouse Police come onto your place to count the numbers in your herd? Or will they use satellite photography to spy on your operation?” says Mr Kiely. “Probably both.”

The IPCC (the International Panel on Climate Change) has made matters worse by recalculating agriculture’s contribution to global warming to include its ‘transport footprint’. This is a departure from the Kyoto Protocol principles and will enabling extremists to claim that Australia agriculture emits more GHG than the stationery energy industry.

“This policy is insane. Taking animals off could lead to a decline of native grasslands. It would certainly increase soil degradation and desertification,” says Mr Kiely. “The only way to meet the Methane threat and retain stock numbers lies in SOIL CARBON volumes. This can offset the new high levels of CH4 and retain animal impact.”

Many techniques for capturing and storing soil carbon will be on show at the world’s first Carbon Farming Expo & Conference will be held in Mudgee on 16th-17th November, 2007 – a week before the election.

Scientists have found that native perennial pastures, properly managed, can sequester as much carbon per hectare as plantation forests and native vegetation.

Australia’s sustainable farmers are getting the most rapid C increases using combinations of grazing management, pasture cropping and biological farming. “But the dominant paradigm - that Australian soils are too old and depleted to retain soil C (though no credible data supports this conclusion) -- remains the official position,” says Mr Kiely.

And the madness piles on madness: reducing herds will cause LESS carbon to be stored in the soil!

“The Climate Change Coalition seeks to rally the grazing management community to challenge the "stock is bad, de-stock is good” argument. We recommend Council of Crisis involving HM, RCS, the CMAs and prominent practitioners to educate the AGO in the immense potential of agricultural sequestration. Good grazing management should be central to its BEST PRACTICE regime.

“I am standing in the seat of Parkes for the Climate Change Coalition to alert the electorate to the threats to regenerative agriculture and the soil carbon opportunity to radically transform rural landscapes.”



GIA Summary May 2006 1

Reducing uncertainty and best management practices for minimising
greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture

A summary of the research currently being conducted by the Greenhouse in Agriculture
program, under the CRC for Greenhouse Accounting.

(Adapted from a paper by Dr Richard Eckard, Program Manager Greenhouse in Agriculture.
CRC for Greenhouse Accounting, The University of Melbourne and Victorian Dept Primary
Industries. Presented at ABARE National OUTLOOK Conference 2006.)

Animal numbers

"An obvious management practice would be to run fewer animals, but to manage each animal to be more productive. By improving genetic and nutritional management, production can be maintained from a smaller herd. Associated with producing more per head on pasture -based systems is an increase in the emission/head, but this is more than compensated for by less animals. ….

"• Animal stocking rate - The higher the stocking rate the higher the volume of nitrogen deposited in dung and urine per unit area. Dung and especially urine are very inefficiently recycled in the soil plant system, with up to 60% of the nitrogen in a
urine patch being lost to the environment. Higher stocking rate systems demand a higher nitrogen input regime (either fertiliser or imported feed) and thus result in ahigher nitrogen content excreted in urine. A urine patch from dairy cow commonly contains between 800 and 1400 kg N/ha effective application rate with the patch. A higher stocking rate also leads to greater pugging (hoof compaction) of the soil; pugged soils tend to be more anaerobic due to hoof compaction leading to higher nitrous oxide losses...

"These options will all need to be economically assessed prior to being communicated to the agricultural community to ensure a positive driver for adoption. The adoption of greenhouse specific management practice is not likely to be a high priority for the farming community, and there are currently no policy drivers or market incentives for adoption of these practices. Researchers and policy makers would therefore be unwise to publish greenhouse -specific best management practice manuals, but should rather aim to seamlessly integrate greenhouse best practice into existing industry adoption pathways and mechanisms. This also ensures that these greenhouse best management practices are consistent with other industry best management practices, thus improving the adoption and the opportunity for a win-win outcome; this is the approach taken by the Greenhouse in Agriculture program team."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The AGO has published documents that canvass the option of destocking all of the rangelands to reduce methane emissions. However it would be to strong an opinion to say that those documents 'recommended' destocking. The concern is that this option is an easy win for a government, at least of the lease hold land that covers almost all of the 'rangelands' in WA. The problem is that AGO does not really know what the net sequestration / emisssion rate is from diferent forms of grazing (or any other broad acre agriculture). They are using the tier 1 assumption in the National Carbon Accounts that assumes there is no change in soil carbon levels in agricultural soils in Australia.
We have evidence that changing from annual pastures to perennial pastures on poor sands north of Perth increases the carbon levels in the soil at a rate equiavelent to 5 to 10 t CO2 /ha/year. We are also increasing the stocking rate, and therefore the methane emissions with these perennials. But our calculations are that the extra green house gas from the extra stock is only about 10% of the increase in carbon stored in the soil (or wood + soil for tagasaste). i.e. net sequestration
Unfortunately the data is base on a limited number of soil samples and we need funds to do it more intensively to satisfy the sceptics.
I have extrapolated our findings from our limited number of sites to investigate the potential sequestration if we converted all the poorer sands in WA to perennials. This is extrapolation far beyond the data. But my figures suggest that the carbon sequestered would equal the current total net emissions from WA. i.e. we would make WA carbon neutral by converting our cleared sands to perennial pastures.
We also have data comparing traditional set stocking with a very intensive grazing rotation on range land in the Pilbara of WA (paired samples on either side of a boundary fence between the two systems). We found that the carbon levels in the top 10 cm of soil and the ground litter was higher under the intensive grazing despite there being about 10 times the amount of grazing days per hectare. Again we haven't had enough money to do the really detailed testing required. But it does suggest that a major change in grazing manangement could make the rangelands a very significant carbon sink with out having to scarifise the grazing industry (it fact it would become more economically viable).