Friday, October 19, 2007

Soil Carbon Market coming, says CSIRO

Australian farmers can grow carbon levels in their soils, and advances in science are making a market in credits more likely, says senior CSIRO soil scientist Jeff Baldock.

Dr Baldock, who will be presenting a soil carbon calculator at the world’s first “Carbon Farming” Expo & Conference in November at Mudgee, says a fully-functioning market in soil carbon could make it ‘more economic to farm for carbon than to farm for yield.’

Speaking on ABC Rural Radio, said the CSIRO is discovering more about the dynamics of carbon in the soil, seeking ways to predict the influence of agricultural practices on soil carbon levels. The only barrier to a healthy market at present is the price of carbon, he said.

“I could go most places in the country and institute some sort of agricultural practice that will build soil carbon,” he said. But at current low prices he says it is difficult to justify building carbon for carbon’s sake.

Dr Baldock believes that there are many other reasons to build soil carbon. “Carbon fulfils a whole bunch of roles in soils: it holds nutrients, it helps water-holding capacity, it buffers pH change, it provides energy for soil microbes. It has a lot of spin-offs for enhancing the productivity of soil.”

Leading scientists and innovative farmers will discuss a wide range of carbon farming techniques at the Carbon Farming Expo & Conference on 16th-17th November, 2007 in Mudgee. The world’s most eminent soil carbon scientist, Dr Rattan Lal (President of the American Soil Science Society) described the conference as ‘an historic event of international importance”.

The Conference is being organised by the Central West Catchment Management Authority, the Australian Soil Science Society, and the Carbon Coalition. It is being supported by the Department of Primary Industries, STIPA, and the Central West Conservation Farmers’ Association.

For more information visit or call 02 6374 0329

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