Friday, December 14, 2007

Carbon Coalition Draft Activity Program 2008

The following projects are planned for implementation in 2008.

ο Carbon Farmers of Australia (Indicator-based soil carbon trading system)

ο Soil-C-Central (web community and resource-sharing site)

ο First World Congress on Soil Carbon & Climate Change (International event)

In each case we are seeking financial and other practical support from government and corporate sources as well as landholders. We also need people who can help with • strategy • construction • fundraising • lobbying • content provision • etc. (


To see the day when farmers are paid to capture and store soil carbon at rates sufficient to change land management practices and impact on 85%+ of agricultural land in Australia and the World.


Soil carbon trading is a new paradigm. It challenges the dominant paradigm which holds that soil carbon is generically unsuitable for trade as a commodity because of its uncertainties in the face of the accounting regimes associated with the markets. It is further disqualified in the dominant school of thought by the depleted nature of Australia's soils. The battle between paradigms is political and cultural, as empires, careers, and spheres of influence are fortified by ruling paradigms. Science is not a clear-cut, objective matter. Adherents to competing paradigms see the world differently, talk past each other, define science differently. “Paradigm change cannot be justified by proof,” says Thomas Kuhn in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. “The man who embraces a new paradigm at an early stage must often do so in defiance of the evidence… At the start a new candidate for paradigm may have few supporters, and on occasions the supporters' motives may be suspect… [If] the paradigm is one destined to win its fight, the number and strength of the persuasive arguments in its favour will increase.”

“The proponents of competing paradigms practice their trades in different worlds… see different things when they look from the same point in the same direction… That is why a law that cannot even be demonstrated to one group of scientists may occasionally seem intuitively obvious to another… Before they can communicate fully, one group or the other must experience the conversion that we call a paradigm shift.”

Kuhn says paradigms cannot rise to dominance or survive challenges without the protection of a community that rely upon it. “A paradigm is what the members of a scientific community share, and, conversely, a scientific community consists of men who share a paradigm.” The scientific community selects and trains its inductees in seeing the world through the prism of the paradigm. These communities are self-referring via the peer review system of vetting research. And Kuhn says these communities, while rallying around a paradigm, are more closely linked by personal values.

The New Paradigm of Soil C needs a community willing to campaign for the testing* of the theory on a level playing field, under ideal conditions, by scientists who believe it can be demonstrated that Australian soils can sequester significant amounts of soil C.

*It has yet to be thoroughly investigated.
**To counter the influence of the observer on the outcome (as demonstrated by Danish physicist Niels Bohr.)

Carbon Farmers of Australia
The first soil C trading entity


Carbon Farmers of Australia (CFA) is the trading arm of the Carbon Coalition. It sells Australian Soil Credits on the Voluntary Offset Market.

It was founded to get trading started while the issue of direct measurement and monitoring of exact amounts of carbon captured and stored is being resolved. It uses proxies or visual indicators of soil carbon increases based on land management change and paddock history, as used by the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX).


The reason CFA was established was to prove that trading was possible and to loosen a gridlocked political environment by building a sense of impetus towards a solution. Its establishment sent an echo around the stakeholder communities. It was the first soil trading program to operate in Australia, the others being direct measurement systems which are either still in development or in trials.

The system is also a low risk/low value model which can act as a means of acclimatising the farmers to the responsibilities inherent in a trading system prior to them entering the more rigorous “direct measurement/full value” model.


CFA is a service for growers seeking to gain a commercial return for their soil husbandry and land management. Services include sales, marketing, aggregation of pools, advice, auditing management, and revenue maximisation.

CFA is offering soil credits for purchase on the voluntary carbon offset market. These credits are not eligible as offsets for achieving mandatory caps.

It also aims to address the CCX voluntary commodity market when the peer-reviewed data can be supplied to the CCX (pending) and Australian mandatory commodity markets when the agreed methodology for measurement is achieved (less imminent.)


The land management performance can be audited by either the Central West Catchment Management Authority for properties within its Catchment or by NASAA, the verification service that is used by organic producers as a third party standards monitor . (The CWCMA is committed to recruiting other CMAs to act as auditors. But in order to guarantee that we can extend the service beyond the Catchment regardless of the outcome of these efforts, we have entered into discussions with NASAA.)

Visual audit 5 land management practices:

1.No tillage cropping instead of ploughing. Sowing crops into stubble or dormant pasture avoids baring the soil and releasing CO2. Maintaining groundcover is essential to increasing soil carbon.

2. No burning of stubble or grasses. Burning releases CO2 and bares soil to erosion and loss of moisture, both of which deplete soil carbon.

3.Maximum continuous groundcover. Prevents erosion and emission of CO2, maintains soil structure, retains moisture, prevents over-heating.

4.Perenniality of pasture species. Deep rooted perennials are the most effective in generating carbon.

5.Biodiversity instead of monoculture. As soil microbial communities become more diverse and complex, they generate more carbon.

An annual visual audit should confirm the following:

1. increase groundcover and therefore biomass (vegetation and rootmass)
2. increase perenniality & therefore produce more biomass
3. increase biodiversity of plants species & wildlife in & on the soil
4. reduce soil disturbance and compaction


Land is eligible where land management has changed since 1990 (the IPCC's baseline year):

o from till to no till (ploughing to no ploughing)
o from till to pasture
o from set stocking to grazing management

The sequestration value of CFA Soil Credits is set at a very conservative rate of 2 tonne CO2 per hectare (c. 0.5tC/Ha) per year (with adjustments for climate region, ie., Tablelands, Slopes, Plains) There is a mechanism for calculating the impact of climatic regions on soil carbon accumulation, based on what is known about the behaviour of carbon in these regions.


ο Average 2.5% Organic Carbon in top 10 cm soil profile.
ο Benchmarked annual change 0.75 tonnes Carbon/ha/yr
ο 150% base price/hectare/year


ο Average 1.7% Organic Carbon in top 10 cm soil profile. Benchmarked annual change 0.50 tonnes Carbon/ha/yr
ο 100% base price hectare/year


ο Average 0.8% Organic Carbon in top 10 cm soil profile.
ο Benchmarked annual change 0.25 tonnes Carbon/ha/yr
ο 50% base price hectare/year


The categories are based on estimates published by the Australian Greenhouse Office:

ο "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)

ο 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.)

ο “Rebuilding soil carbon levels is a slow process which imposes limits on what can be achieved by 2010. Even so, it is suggested that a sequestration rate in the of about 2 Mt C pa is within the realms of possibility and that the sequestration by agricultural soils can make a significant contribution to the achievement of greenhouse gas emissions targets.” (Roger Swift and Jan Skjemstad, CSIRO Land and Water for the CSIRO Biosphere Working Group, “Agricultural Soils as Potential Sinks for Carbon”)


1. A 5 year management agreement will be entered into between CFA and the Carbon Farmer.
2. Insurance covered by system of make good provisions in event of loss of carbon by fire or mismanagement.
3. If farmers can show that they are storing more carbon then they are encouraged to seek other traders to sell excess carbon stored.
4. Minor penalty repayment to withdraw from program


We launched the system at the Carbon Farming Conference in November, 2007 and are currently enlisting Carbon Farmers and expect to 'go public' in February, 2008.

Outcomes & Metrics

We aim to have 50 registered growers by June, 2008 and 250 by December, 2008

The primary objective has already been achieved. Ie., the first sales made through the system during the market testing phase led to the first meetings with soil scientists which in turn evolved into the Carbon Farming Expo & Conference which was the high point in public acceptance of carbon farming by the scientific community.

The secondary objective - preparing a group of Carbon Farmers for the discipline of the trading environment - will be measured by how many of them transition to include “direct measurement/full value” when such a system is available.


The world's largest soil C web community and resource


Soil-C-Central is a web-based, single-issue resource and community centre that is dedicated to promoting the value and power of soil carbon.


Objective 1: To build a community of scientists, farmers, extension officers, corporate executives, students, policymakers, media, etc. Network them around a core common interest: soil carbon. Arm members of the soil C community with facts and the self-belief to help them spread the word.

Objective 2: To build public awareness of the benefits of soil carbon trading:

ο CO2 sequestration
ο Farm family economies
ο Restoration of farm landscapes

Objective 3: To create a sense of inevitability and anticipation around soil carbon as a Climate Change solution to generate the political will to remove barriers to the trade.


A soil C “webtropolis”: an online city with districts, neighbourhoods, community facilities and services: an online library, resource centre, news service and meeting place for everyone interested in soil carbon.

Planned to meet the needs of individuals with diverse reasons for being involved.


Location - A place to hang out for those engaged in the new soil C paradigm.

Education - Basic information for the seeker, reporter, educator, generalist. Specialist infomation for the maven and the power user. Scalable pathways to pursue information into the vaults or wherever it leads.

Knowledge - The power of fresh information. A new paradigm must win the argument in the open arena of peer-reviewed science.

Identity - Validation of the heretical beliefs of the adherent to a new paradigm. Provides members with sense of identity and affirmation of their beliefs

Community - Networks members so they can learn from each other. Empowers members to provide leadership in their own communities.

Trade - A place where business can be transacted, contacts made, and services purchased.

Invention - Geeks fostering the next generation of ideas or finding new ways of putting the old ones to the sword.

Innovation - Promotes Carbon Farming as a new way of agriculture.

Climate Change - Provides Leadership Role for Agriculture in Climate Change issue.

Villages will spring up among special interest groups who will start Online Groups and personal Blogs to form a niche meeting place for their sub-group, like clubs at university.


This project will be built in stages, to accommodate the flow of income:

Stage 1: Build a “Display Village”*

Home Page (“Central Station”)
Resource Area (“Library”) - Based on existing functions
Newsletter (“News Media”) - Based on existing functions

Stage 2: Complete construction

Use “Display Village” to solicit support for completion of construction from sponsors (NAB, Landmark, Country Energy, etc.)

Stage 3: Living Community

Financed by:

Membership fees

There are three categories of cost:

1. Website construction & maintenance
Build basic site
Renovations and extensions as required

2. Content development and production (ongoing)
Locating content, compiling archive, scientific papers, etc.
Producing news bulletins
Posting slide shows, podcasts, etc.

3. Administration
Manage discussion groups
Help Desk
Handle user problems

Outcomes & Metrics

The standard metrics for websites include hits, page impressions, time spent, unique visitors, return visits, registrations, sales, memberships, comments left, contribution to strings, city of origin, etc.

We will also be able to track usage of resources, ie. which information is most useful.

Online petitions, surveys and plebiscites can also be used to gather data.

We will judge success on raw visits, memberships, attendance at webcasts, and usage of resources.

We will also judge success by how many suburbs are established.

Ultimately the power of the community will be measured by how quickly we achieve our Mission.


World Congress on Soil Carbon & Climate Change


A gathering of the world's top scientists, farmers and soil C enthusiasts to network their knowledge and pool resources.


Harness the best minds to solve the problem everyone is working on separately: measurement and monitoring.


Digital Age gathering
World's best soil carbon scientists and carbon farmers
USA, Australia, NZ, India, China, Sth Africa, Brazil, Argentina
Web and satellite links
A month of events
Special areas: eg. measurement, cropping, etc
Culminating in a big gathering in Australia or China or USA for face2face


October 2008 - International Year of Planet Earth

Outcomes & Metrics

Energise the global soil C community.
Put soil carbon on the world map
Get serious consideration of the Soil C Solution

Two Enquiries, Three New Ministers

The Coalition needs input for the following:

We are putting together submissions two enquiries and meetings with three new ministers:

1. NSW Legislative Assembly Standing Committee on Natural Resource Management (Climate Change) was established to inquire into issues of sustainable natural resource management:

(a) The likely consequences of human-induced climate change on land (including salinity), water and other natural resources; 

"(b) Options for ensuring ecologically sustainable natural resource use, taking into particular account the impacts of climate change;

(c) Approaches to land and water use management practices on farms and other natural resource management practices, having regard in particular to the role of such practices in contributing to climate change or as a tool in helping to tackle climate change;

"(d) The effectiveness of management systems for ensuring that sustainability measures for the management of natural resources in New South Wales are achieved, having particular regard to climate change; and

"(e) The likely consequences of national and international policies on climate change on natural resource management in New South Wales."

(For info:

Submissions by 15 December, 2007. (Right - this is a last minute effort.)

2. The Garnaut Climate Change Review will examine the impacts of climate change on the Australian economy, and recommend medium to long-term policies and policy frameworks to improve prospects for sustainable prosperity.
Part of the Review includes ways in which" land management, agriculture and forestry interact with climate change in Australia, and how that interaction might be affected by policy choices in Australia... The Review recognises the importance of agriculture and forestry in the Australian context of climate change, and the need for appropriate incentives for agriculture and forestry in participating in the mitigation effort."

Submissions due 4 January, 2007.

We are also gearing up for meetings with three new federal ministers: Tony Burke, Minister for Agriculture, Penny Wong, Climate Change, and Peter Garrett, Environment.

So far the indicators are good. Tony Burke was on The Country Hour enthusing about what he was seeing around Tamworth when he visited the Namoi CMA. (He was commenting on the way groundcover was preventing erosion.) A self-confessed agriculture newbie, Mr Burke has impressed everyone with his voracious appetite for knowledge and his openness. He suits us because he hasn't got the baggage McGauran, Turnbull and Campbell had (their connections with the high-input farming lobby). He isn't infected with the official line about Australian soils. Yet.

Penny Wong is a dynamite choice for Climate Change. She is forensic in her analysis of situations and is not likely to be snowed by the spin doctors in the public service. Her first instruction as Minister was to prepare a greenhouse gas costing for all Labor's promises from the Election. As the soil carbon issue requires a mind that can see through the myths and misunderstandings to get to the hard numbers underneath, the Coalition is confident that it will find an open ear when we get to see her.

Peter Garrett is not 'demoted'. He is the apparent victim of the promotion of Climate Change to a separate ministry - which is a good news story - recognising that Climate Change is an economic portfolio as much as it is an environmental one. Peter is 'a friend at court' for the Carbon Coalition. And we present the acceptable face of agriculture to the ALP and moderate Greens. Peter's portfolio will impact on agriculture. We can offer the Government a bridge to the future.

All these presentations need input, if you have any lying around. What input? Data. Evidence. Statements by significant people. Anything that can be used to promote our cause. And what do we want from Government? Clear out the naysayers from the administration. Commit to giving soil C it's best shot at proving what it can do under ideal conditions.

Preparing submissions and planning for our THREE BIG PROJECTS FOR 2008 (see next post) is how we will be spending Christmas. And watching the grass grow.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Jock comes to Gugong to meet his sceptical flock

Jock Laurie, hard-talking hard-travelling President of NSW Farmers came to Gulgong and the Coalition cornered him to update him. Jock told the audience of 40 that the new Commonwealth Government presents farmers with a great opportunity to build better relations with the ALP. He described the new Minister For Agriculture Tony Burke in positive terms: "He has a good work ethic. He wants to succeed in this portfolio. He admits he has no background in agriculture, but he is obviously keen to listen and learn." Mr Laurie said the big issues facing farmers in the State remain the effects of drought, the election of a new Government, the public image of farming and Climate Change. He said the Association is pushing for a seat at the table. "We don't want to be left out of the discussions and told afterwards what we have to do," he said. "Agriculture has an opportunity to not only play a part in the issue, but farmers could find themselves leading the way to make a major impact on the problem at a global level."

Michael Kiely, NSWFarmers' member and Convenor of the Carbon Coalition, endorsed Jock Laurie's strong stand on Climate Change. "Jock was one of the first industry leaders to grasp the meaning of carbon sequestration for farmers and see the opportunity for them. He listened to us when a lot of people scratched their heads. Now he is on the front foot and is leading the charge, even though many of his members are climate sceptics.

"His view, and ours, is that you don't have to believe that Global Warming is man-made, but the majority of people and all the governments of the world do. You have the right to your opinion, but democracy isn't about acting on everyone's opinion. The majority rules. If 2500 climate scientists are wrong, then the world will have wasted a lot of money and time. But if the sceptics are wrong and we follow their advice and do nothing, we'll lose a lot more than money and time."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

SLIDES from Carbon Farming Expo & Conference now available

You will find LINKS alongside this item, to most of the papers presented at the Carbon Farming Expo & Conference in Mudgee, 16th-17th November, 2006. There are just a couple more to join them.

Coming up will be the audio for each presentation and a DVD. These will be available (God willing) in the new year.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas Cards & T-Shirts: Support the Work of the Carbon Coalition

More good news: Soils In New Voluntary Carbon Standard

The day soils will be officially recognised as a valid source of tradable Carbon is coming closer. On 19 November, 2007 a Guide Book for a Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) for Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use Projects (AFOLU) was released. The final standard will be released in 2008 to assist the trade in carbon in the voluntary market. (The non-mandatory market - where individuals and corporations seek to buy offsets - not because they have to meet a target - simply to do something positive about Climate Change (or be seen to be doing something).

The following four categories of AFOLU project activities will be covered under the VCS:
• Afforestation, Reforestation and Revegetation (ARR)
• Agricultural Land Management (ALM)
• Improved Forest Management (IFM)
• Reducing Emissions from Deforestation (RED)

In the future, new AFOLU project categories will be added (e.g., avoided devegetation) as best-practices become defined...

Despite their clear potential, AFOLU projects can be quite challenging to design, implement and monitor. Fortunately, defined solutions for dealing with permanence, additionality, leakage, measurement, and monitoring have emerged in the last few years. The VCS reflects these latest solutions and provides best-practice guidance.

The VCS is being put together by a coalition of organisations - including the World Business Council For Sustainable Development and the World Economic Forum, which developed the global standards for calculating carbon footprints. Australia's representative on the team of reviewers is Martijn Wilder from law firm Baker & McKenzie. Martijn is a friend of the Carbon Coalition and has given us advice without charge.

Under the heading "Eligible Activities"are (A) improved cropland management; (B) improved grassland management and, (C)
cropland and grassland land-use conversions.

An open letter to soil scientists about Carbon (July 2006)

At the same time we set up the blog, the Carbon Coalition made this appeal to the soil scientists of the world on 10 July, 2006:

Dear Soil Scientist,

Scientists have rarely had the opportunity to change the course of history that you have today. Global warming is now widely considered inevitable. The race is on to find ways to avert the worst case scenario.

While millions of trees are being planted and various solutions are being investigated, including pumping C02 into oceans, empty coal seams and oil wells, none has the capacity to sequester sufficient CO2 in the next 50 years. Only soils can do it. "Results from integrated assessment analyses indicate that soil carbon sequestration may have an important strategic role – due to potential for early deployment and low costs – within a technology portfolio to mitigate climate change," says US climate change economist Professor Bruce A. McCarl of Texas A&M University. "Unlike many other technologies to offset fossil fuel emissions (e.g. geologic carbon sequestration, carbon capture), land management for soil C sequestration can be implemented immediately, provided there are economic and other incentives to do so."

Soils can sequester large amounts of carbon*. "Soil organic carbon is the largest reservoir in interaction with the atmosphere," reports the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organisation. (Vegetation 650 gigatons, Atmosphere 750 gigatons, Soil 1500 gigatons). Poor management of the world's soils in the past 200 years has seen soil carbon levels severely depleted in many regions. Grazing land alone comprises more than half the total land surface of the world. Any incremental change in carbon levels through improved soil management on such a scale could have a massive impact on atmospheric CO2 stocks.

Soils used for C sequestration would reach their carbon saturation point within that 50-year window of opportunity. But they will have done the job until alternatives come on stream.

There are two more links in the chain between you and saving the world from the worst of Global Warming. Link #1 is the motivation to get conservative farmers to make radical changes to their farm practices. The income derived from selling carbon credits would be sufficient incentive to change for most farmers if prices were in the range currently being achieved under the Kyoto Agreement.

Link #2 is the mechanism which can make such trade possible - the measurement, monitoring and verification of amounts of carbon sequestered in soils. Here the spotlight falls upon you. The world needs a reliable, bankable methodology that will be acceptable to markets. Currently the ruling paradigm states that it can't be done: soil carbon levels are in such flux that they can swing wildly from one side of a field to another, from furrow to furrow, from day to day.

Consider this: Before Columbus, educated Europeans thought the earth was flat. Before Copernicus, educated Europeans thought the Sun revolved around the Earth. These old paradigms were fiercely defended by the establishment. There will come a day when soil carbon measurement will be a problem solved and the world will reap the benefits.

These benefits are not just greenhouse-related. The soil management techniques required for carbon sequestration - constant groundcover, deep-rooted perennials, minimum- or no-tillage cropping, and the like - will have the positive effect of restoring soil structure, rebuilding biomass and microfauna communities, increasing the soil's water-holding capacity, reducing the incidence of salination, and improving soil fertility and productivity. Add to these the protection of topsoil from wind and water erosion and you can see how powerful is your opportunity. The carrot of carbon credits will motivate an entire generation of farmers to learn the benefits of husbanding the soil.

There are profound social benefits, as well. Increased farm incomes would help farm families stay together on the land. Increased farm values would give farm families financial flexibility and confidence in the future. Soil carbon credits would also foster new growth in farm communities, providing employment opportunities and protecting social infrastructure that is crumbling as you read this.

Given the benefits for the environment and society, the search for a methodology should be pursued with the same passion as the search for a cure for cancer. The scientist who discovers the solution will not only enter the history books. You will have made a real contribution to the lives of everyone on the planet, an opportunity few people are given.

Yours in hope for the future,

The Carbon Coalition Against Global Warming**

PS. Shakespeare said it all:

"There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries."

PPS. *Soil carbon sinks can play a key role in the global strategy to mitigate against greenhouse emissions, says Prof. Bruce A. McCarl. "With focused effort, the amount of carbon sequestered in soil by land management could be significantly increased. Various studies estimate that the soil C sequestration rate may be increased to 0.44-0.88 Pg C y-1 and sustained over a 50-year time frame."

**The Carbon Coalition Against Global Warming is a farmers' and citizens' movement which seeks to have agricultural soils recognised as an effective carbon sink for the purposes of trading on the global greenhouse emissions offset market. Visit for more details and to join.


NB. The scientists have responded magnificently - resulting in the recent Carbon Farming Expo & Conference.

Lal calls on scientists to work towards trading soil C

Professor Lal calls soil scientists to rally to the Carbon Farmers’ cause

It doesn’t sound much like a clarion call, but if you know Dr Rattan Lal’s normally reserved character, he is very animated when he says: “Soil and tillage researchers must be proactive in this important theme.” The key word is ‘proactive’. Its use is tantamount to a plea for scientists to come out of the laboratory and become activists in the soil carbon debate. The “theme” of Dr Lal’s editorial in Soil & Tillage Research is to be found in the title: “Farming carbon”.

Dr Lal has the gloves off when he describes the President’s favourite climate change solution, the burial of captured CO2e in deep underground caverns or deep in the ocean. “In contrast to the high economic and environmental cost of the ‘work in progress’ technologies of oceanic and geologic sequestration, [soil carbon sequestration] is an opportunity that the world cannot afford to ignore,” he says. “C-sequestration in the terrestrial biosphere (eg. forests, agricultural soils) is considered a low-hanging fruit, a win-win strategy and a bridge to the future until low-C or no-C fuel sources take effect.”

Lal sets a benchmark of between 30 and 40 tonnes of carbon per hectare for even very degraded soils: “Soils with severely deplete SOC (soil organic carbon) pool could have lost at much as 30-40Mg C/ha which also constitutes the theoretical or potential sink capacity.”

Here are the highlights of his editorial:

• “The process of [soil carbon sequestration] is appropriately termed ‘farming carbon’ or ‘growing carbon’ when C sequestered in soil can also be traded as any other farm commodity (eg. corn, soybean, milk, meat, poultry).”

• “”The commodification of soil/terrestrial carbon may provide the much needed incentives to promote adoption of recommended management practices restore degraded soils while improving the SOC pool.”

“… the ever-growing need of increasing agronomic production to meet basic needs of 830 million insecure food-insecyure people, mostly in Subsaharan Africa and Southern Asia…. There is also an important issue of stewardship of soil resources,” he says.

• Lal quotes a US Federal Bureau of Soils document which maintained in 1878 “the soil is the one indestructable, immutable asset that the nation possess, and one resource that cannot be exhausted.” This attitude led to the legendary dust storms when the mid-West of the USA lost thousands of tonnes of top soil.

• “Taking soils for granted… led to the Dustbowl of the 1930 in the US and to a wide spread distribution of degraded and desertified soils, civil unrest and political instability, and to collapse of civilisation as we know it.” (Lal cites Jared Diamond’s book “Collapse”.)

• “It is important to enhance collective/community soil/land ethic that incorporates understanding of ecology and sustainable use of soil based on recommended management practices and the traditional knowledge and wisdom. There is a need for paradigm shift on new perspective on soil tillage and the value of soil as a whole.”

• Dr Lal ask the question: “what price in the loss of ecosystem services are we willing to pay for producing modern biofuels from crop residues?” He points to ‘the possible adverse effects of crop residue removal on soil quality, agronomic productivity, and sustainability of soil and water resources. The severe and widespread problem of soil degradation and the attendant agrarian stagnation/deceleration, are caused by indiscriminant removal of crop residues (for competing uses as fodder, fuel, thatchingmaterial) and uncontrolled grazing.”

• “Gain in the soil C pool, with reference to a baseline period, can be traded through World Bank, Chicago Climate Exchange, European Climate Exchange, and natonal and local industry.”

• “The possibility of trading soil C credits offers a new hope to small land holders of Africa and Asia to receive payments for services to society rather than receive handouts.”

• Lal points to the shift in US politics and the enthusiasm for cap and trade in the world community, including California’s own trading system. “Thus, coming events are casting their shadow in this important and emerging field of immense significant to soil science, and the researchers must out their act together before the train departs the station.”

•”There is a strong need for developing a methodology for assessing C credits in soils and terrestrial ecosystems.. The principal challenge to soil scientists lies in: (i) upscaling the point data to landscape, farm, watershed or a region comprising 100,000-200,000 ha, (ii) evaluating changes in the soil C pool (expressed in Mg/ha/year) with reference o a baseline for a cultivated land unit comprising a large farm community, and (iii) verifying that the C thus sequestered in soil is permanent and not re-emitted because of changes in land use or management practices.”

• “There is a strong need to estimate the net C sequestration taking into consideration C costs (hidden C costs) of all input, ie. fertilizers, pestcides, tillage operations irrigation, etc.)”

• “Determining what is soil worth, considering all ecosystem services and looking beyond the short-term economics, I important to the commoditification of soil C.”

• “The strategy of soil carbon sequestration is essential irrespective of the debate on climate change. The depleted SOC pool must be restored, come what may.” Lal reports it is estimated that between 24 and 40million tonnes of additional food grainscan be produced annually if the SOC pool in developing countries can be grown by 1 Mg/ha/year.

Dr Lal has sounded the call to arms.

HERE IN AUSTRALIA WE ARE AHEAD OF THE REST: Our scientists have already - for 12 months - been engaging with farmers to find solutions to these issues. The Carbon Coalition would like to acknowledge Brian Murphy, Jeff Baldock, Andrew Rawson, John Friend, Greg Chapman, Richard Green, Albert Oates, YN Chan, Alec McBratney, and all scientists who have given us encouragement and support.