Friday, May 29, 2009

Tagasaste Bob Wins Inaugural GAIA Award

Carbon Coalition Counsellor Bob WIlson from WA won the first GAIA (Green Agriculture Innovation Award), selected by Dr Christine Jones. Bob, vice president of WA's Evergreen Farming Group, has earned the name "Tagasaste Bob" because of his work introducing new edible shrubs, including "Tagasaste" and other 'exotic' grasses such as native perennials (native to the eastern states) which grow well on the silver loams (ie. sand) in south western WA. Bob has been a guiding presence in the Carbon Coalition since we began 3 years ago. His award is recognition of his success as a pioneer. Bob's (and Tim WiIey's) work in adaptive grazing management has given hope to the farmers of the region and beyond. Well done, Bob.

PS. Christine Jones received a generous donation from businessman Alan Hill to establish the award hich will run for 5 years.

Photo:Minister for Agriculture Tony Burke was present to see Bob given his award at the Dinner as part of the 10th National Business Leaders Forum on Sustainable Development, held at Parliament House last night. Christine Jones is seen in the background.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Please take some grassroots action - read the Draft Standard

and make some comments...

THe American farmers' groups who have developed the Agricultural Soil Credit Standard are appealing to those with an interest to comment on it. Australian farmers have an interest in this Standard because of the global political environment in which the USA is flying the flag for Agriculture worldwide. Agriculture relies on grassroots action to see change. This standard is to be submitted to the US Government by the Iowa and Illinois Corn Growers Associations.

Click here for access to a pdf copy of the Draft Standard.

The group developed this standard to validate soil-based carbon offset methodologies and systems that can be broadly accepted. The standard used elements from ISO 9001, ISO Guide 65 and National Organic Program (NOP).

>> The comment period will last only until June 26, 2009

>> Please direct all comments to Gary DeLong, Managing Director of Novecta, by email.

His address is:

>> Comments should be noted by page number and section as appropriate.

>> The comments will be assembled into a matrix format for review by the committee and any others who are interested in doing so.

>> At the conclusion of the comment period the comments will be review by the committee and then submitted to United States Department Agriculture (USDA) for review.

Land Management Practices for Carbon Credits

Land management practices are spelled out for farmers wanting to sell carbon credits based on soil carbon, in the Draft Agricultural Soil Credit Standard to be submitted to the US Government by the Iowa and Illinois Corn Growers Associations.
Click here for access to a pdf copy of the Draft Standard.

Part D - Management Practices
Sec. 400 General.
Projects generating credits for sale or trade shall comply with the applicable provisions of this Part. Management practices shall result in additional soil carbon or emission reduction. The practices shall be maintained or improved throughout the duration of the contract to sell carbon credits.

Sec. 405 Credit and Reduction Practices.
The net greenhouse gas impact in a carbon credit or emission reduction method shall be less than the greenhouse gas impact in standard agricultural practices. The following baseline or business as usual practices listed in (a) shall be changed by using one or more method listed in (b), (c), (d), or (e) of this section.

(a) Baseline or business as usual includes:

(1) No soil management plan;
(2) No grazing plan for rangeland;
(3) No management plan for grassland;
(4) No nutrient management plan for crop, grassland, or rangeland to account for the
emission of GHGs; and
(5) No fuel use plan to reduce the quantity of petroleum-based fuels used.

(b) Cropping systems, including planted grassland or rangeland. Cropping systems shall reduce greenhouse gas impact by executing one or more of the following practices to sequester carbon in the soil:

(1) Reduction of soil disturbance when performing cropping activities such as no-till or
conservation tillage as defined by the current edition of the NRCS Handbook of
Conservation Practices;
(2) Modifying crop rotations to add biomass to the soil, including cover crops;
(3) Plantings crops that add carbon to the soil; and
(4) Any other practice or technology approved by the Agricultural Carbon Board that results
in additional carbon sequestration.

(c) Grazing Plan for Rangeland and Grassland. Grazing plans for rangeland and grassland shall increase carbon sequestration by increasing biomass from vegetation. All of the following requirements shall be met:

(1) Low-to-moderate grazing based on rainfall or irrigation;
(2) Seasonal rotation to increase vegetative production cycle; and
(3) Any other practice or technology that results in increased carbon sequestration in the plant material and the surrounding soil profile and that is approved by the Agricultural Carbon Board.
Note: The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Field Office Technical Guides publish
guidelines for managing the controlled harvest of vegetation with grazing animals. Stocking rates
and livestock distribution criteria are defined according to County and State in the NRCS
“Prescribed Grazing Specification” code. A formal grazing plan may be developed with the input of
NRCS, BLM, USFS other non-profit agencies or private rangeland consulting firms. Regardless of
the source of the grazing plan, it shall at a minimum adhere to NRCS standards.

(d) Nutrient Planning. Methods used to enhance soil fertility shall facilitate net reductions of GHG emissions into the environment compared to the baseline; a nutrient plan shall include at least one of the following:

(1) Reduction of the amount of fertilizer used and variable rate application;
(2) Selection and use of fertilizer that reduces emissions, such as slow release fertilizers
(nitrification inhibitors, and urease inhibitors);
(3) Crop rotations that add nutrients to the soil;
(4) Management of the timing, placement and method of application of nitrogen fertilizer
(including split applications and not using fall application);
(5) Use of organic nutrient sources; and
(6) Any other fertilization practice approved by the Agricultural Carbon Board that results in
net reductions of GHG emissions.

(e) Fuel use plan. Cultural practices shall reduce the amount of petroleum-based fuel. A fuel use plan shall include at least one of the following:

(1) Overall reduction of fuel use;
(2) Use of biological-based fuel such as ethanol or bio-diesel;
(3) Use of equipment that reduces GHG emissions;
(4) Any other fuel reduction or emission method approved by the Agricultural Carbon Board that result in reduced carbon dioxide emissions.

MMV not revealed in Draft Agricultural Soil Credit Standard


Although the detail of the Measurement approach adopted is not given in the draft*, it is described as a mix of “from modeling, assessment and quantification through approved methodologies. Methods of quantification methodology shall be scientifically evaluated, verified, validated and accepted as scientifically valid by a government agency, accredited university, or technical advisory committees of the Agricultural Carbon Board.” The latter is a governing body with stakeholders represented. “Approved methodologies include models, modeling and protocols with validation and verification developed on a foundation of statistically valid sampling representative of the conditions subject to carbon credit.” “The Project Owner or Aggregator shall use an approved quantification methodology to estimate the amount of net primary greenhouse gas change in the soil over time with statistical representation of the credit validated by appropriate direct measurement.”

*Draft Agricultural Soil Credit Standard to be submitted to the US Government by the Iowa and Illinois Corn Growers Associations. Click here for access to a pdf copy of the Draft Standard.

Sec. 302 Validation of quantification methods.
A quantification method shall:
(a) Determine net change in primary greenhouse gases in accordance with prevailing conventions for accuracy, precision of measurement and statistical validity. The quantification methods shall be robust to operate over an appropriate range of soils, cropping practices and environments, and scalable over the scope of the carbon credit. The methodology shall be replicable and thoroughly documented; and
(b) Be validated by an approved domestic or international body, which shall include those
organizations that can demonstrate no conflict of interest and whose work processes are
accredited by appropriate national and/or international accreditation agencies. The methodology for quantification shall conform to prevailing principles of quality management.

Obama considers Draft Agricultural Soil Credit Standard

Concepts such as ‘additionality’ and ‘permanence’ as designed for industrial sequestration and mitigation projectts are not approprite for agriculture, according to the authors of a Draft Agricultural Soil Credit Standard that will be submitted to the Obama Administration which is designing its Cap & Trade system. The Iowa and Illinois Corn Growers Associations commissioned its consulting group Novecta to compile “an agriculture-based, industry-supported standard for the creation of carbon credits that can be marketed in a commodity trading system.” A committee of industry and trade reporesentatives are directing the project.

The Draft Standard features new, agricultural-based, definitions of additionality and permanence, two criteria which are critical to fungible carbon credits. “Typically, industrial credit projects are very stable and have specific points of measurement. Changes in carbon emissions or mitigation of emissions can be measured at a specific site over an agreed upon period of time, supporting the existing definitions of additionality and permanence. Agriculture does not fit well into the current model because production occurs in annual cycles influenced by seasonal activities and varying weather patterns. Soil types, irrigation, use of fertilizer, natural disasters, and individual producer situations contribute to the variability of agriculture,” says the Committee.


The Corn Growers have reconceptualised additionality to remove the ambiguity of the need to read motivations to determine intention. Ie. business as usual is no longer the source of perverse outcomes because farmers who have been sequestering for years are punished and the emitters rewarded for their late arrival. The replacement is much simpler: “GHG project activities shall result in carbon benefits additional to those that would have taken place in the absence of the activity and that are not already required by law or regulation.”

The Committee believes that additionality for agriculture “results from a cropping cycle that is either planted directly or is naturally occurring as in rangeland. If there is more carbon in the soil at the end of a crop cycle than there was in the beginning of the cycle, then "additionality" has occurred.” It says that this definition is “supported by existing science”. The Committee also assets that science also supports “the concept that
agricultural carbon becomes more stable over a period of time as it migrates to greater soil depths.”

Additionality also occurs when reducing emissions from standard agricultural practice such as the application of fertilizers or the use of farm equipment. The Standard considers that “additionality results from the ongoing augmentation and maintenance of existing soil carbon stocks as well as from avoided emissions.”


Permanence has also been redefined in a way more suitable to agriculture. The concept of collective persistence will ensure duration over time. Soil carbon reserve pools (implicit and/or explicit) would serve as a risk buffer to provide insurance of adequate credits should a Project Owner fail to produce agreed upon quantities.

Permanence is “a function of the farm aggregate collectively using credit practices of avoided emissions and carbon sequestration rather than the function of an individual producer.” While individuals might temorarily change their sequestration rate for whatever reason, not all farmers involved are likely to do the same. “As an aggregate there is a
collective persistence of carbon credits,” says the Committee which states that more work will be done to substantiate the claim that when the effects of large groups of producers are measured collectively, credit practices increase each year.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Biochar threatens biodiversity and soil biology?

Ross Garnaut lambasted Australian business leaders for not making the effort to understand the issues behind climate change and the CPRS. He could have included anyone who eulogises biochar as the miracle solution to biosequestration and soil fertilty. Hip Hooray for Stephen Joseph and his wonderful team to be given $1.5 million for research. It can;t be the only research being done on it. We suspect it is a drop in the ocean. Stephen's response to the announcement is revealing: He preferred to have the money put towards building a pyrolisis burner that can produce 10,000 tonnes: "There is not a facility in Australia that the research community has access to." Why not? How expensive are they? What will be the cost of biochar once it is up and running? Could it be that biochar doesn't need scientists, it needs market economists and management accountants?
Why are we questioning biochar? Because it threatens to distract government and industry attention from the soil carbon solution. Lumping soil carbon in with biochar is misleading. They are not brothers or even cousins. Biochar is primarily a manufacturing process producing fuel, energy and soil ameliorants. A side effect of the manufacturing process is hte conversion of vegetation into char - a stable form of carbon. Its stability is similar to that of humus. But it cannot be compared. Because in the next 10-15 years agricultural soil management can produce hundreds of millions of tonnes of humus and biochar will struggle to produce one million in that time. The relative performance as a process for reducing the "Legacy Load" can be see in the conclusion of 20 IPCC soil scientists in the Royal Society's Journal which decided that the world's soils can extract 5-6 billion tonnes of CO2e per year.

There is another reason we want to draw attention to biochar's limitations: it could have a negative impact on biodiversity and soil biology. This morning we had an enquiry from our CMA. A local farmer wants to put the dead and fallen timber on his property through a pyrolisis burner, creating char and offsets for the nearby cement manufacturer to buy. He mentioned that he had heard about biochar and the idea of using 'waste' vegetation on his farm from Tim Flannery during his visit to the Central West last week. Tim did suggest this idea during his lunch time speech to the 150 farmers on a bus tour of 'carbon cockys'' But after his visit to Michael Inwood and Graham Ross's properties, he heard many things about the importance of soil biology and the role fallen timber plays in providing living quarters to microbes and worms, et al. Tim described it as 'waste' because fallen timber is considered only as a source of methane as they decompose. In his latest book - Now Or Never - Tim arrives at accurate conclusions about soil carbon: Soil, he says, is ‘the fastest way of sequestering carbon’. He has reached a clear understanding of the reason why soil is so important: The Legacy Load: “Standing stock of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is around 200 gigatonnes... The strongest prospect of very large draw-down of atmospheric carbon lies in changes to our global agriculture and forestry practices," he says. He acknowledges capacity of the 4 billion hectares of rangeland. Increase the soil carbon in ‘world’s dry rangelands by a mere 2 per cent… we could pull down around 880 gigatonnes of carbon from the atmosphere.”

It would be a tragedy if Biochar caused a battle for biomass.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Time for new leadership in Agriculture

Agriculture must look like a bunch of chooks with their heads chopped off as the industry reacts to the looming Emissions Trading Scheme. Afraid to take on the denialists in their midst, the leadership of the industry at every level has let farmers down. Falling back on the argument that there were many points of view was easy then. Hard now.
Those of us in the Carbon Coalition – campaigning for soil carbon rights so farmers could offset their methane and nitrous oxide emissions – have had a unique view of the way the industry has responded to the challenge of an impending ETS. We always believed that the industry had to engage with the ETS up front and fight for a fair deal on emissions and sequestration. Most people in Agriculture didn’t want to know. The establishment research institutions promoted the view that farmers should forget trading soil carbon: it’s too hard. One ran a series of campaigns (and is still running them) to discredit soil carbon. (It told a Senate Committee that there were no such campaigns.) If the energy and resources that were put into the campaign against soil carbon had been put behind it, farmers would be trading soil carbon today, and we’d have a very different negotiation with the Government.
Not everyone was asleep at the wheel. The grassroots farmers have been interested. Two years ago, when our local Farmers’ Association chapter took a motion to State Conference about soil carbon credits to help farmers, it was “speared” by one of the retired farmers who hang around the Association’s committees. “I speared it,” he announced to me at an event in Cobar. When asked why, he said a friend told him it as bad for farmers. Another senor Association person urged us to keep quiet about soil carbon because the Government might notice we were there and make us pay for our methane emissions. This is the level of debate we have encountered, even among scientists. There are two types of scientist: 1. Those who feel threatened and use terms like ‘snake oil’ to describe our message. 2. Those who sit down with us and are willing to listen and exchange views and collaborate on experiments. They speak at our conferences and don’t hide behind terms like “Soil Carbon Mythbusters”.
Not only has there been an unwillingness to engage with the issue, many protagonists believe they can enter the debate without understanding some of the basic concepts underlying soil carbon trading. The ignorance of some scientists who comment publicly is astonishing.
The Nationals at Federal Level have been missing in action until now. Senator Joyce is exploiting the situation for himself, but not helping the people he claims to represent. Where has he been for the past 3 years? Even the new boy, Mark Coulton, the Member for Parkes, is playing a constructive role as Parliamentary Secretary to the Shadow Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt MP.
Farmers are being hung out to dry because of poor industry leadership. But if you aren’t dealt in, you can’t play. Out-manouvered at every turn by the energy industry, Agriculture did not get a seat at Howard’s Roundtable in mid 2007. The Carbon Coalition had briefed the NFF a year earlier. They knew what was coming. Agriculture stood by and watched the coal industry get hundreds of millions of dollars for climate change research. When soil carbon was given $20million by the Government recently – the largest amount ever allocated for soil carbon research in Australia - the CSIRO’s Dr Jeff Baldock didn’t call one of the industry funding bodies to say thanks. He called the snake oil salesmen. The Carbon Coalition.
Climate Change is on us right now. We can’t afford to wait for the laggards to catch up. There is no leadership coming from the Leaders of Agriculture. We must provide our own leadership. Christine Jones, Ken Bellamy, Col Seis, Bob Wilson, Tim Wiley, Tony Lovell – these, and many more like them, are our leaders. They don’t have titles. They lead by just getting on with it.
Leadership groups are emerging: Think tanks and action groups focussed on sustainable agricultural philosophies and practices, such as a 'deep thought' group in the New England and the new “Eco-Ag” group forming after a recent meeting in Orange, NSW. Another alliance of activists is forming around Major General Michael Jefferies, the former Governor General, who is ready to use his influence to get the sustainability message heard. These must lend their support to each other, fuse where they overlap, and accept that together we make each other stronger. Now is not the time for sectional interests to pursue their agendas.
We know who the enemy is: ignorance and fear. And that disunity is death.

Bravo, Ken Bellamy - Soil Carbon Trading Pioneer

Prime Carbon, the pioneer of the regional soil carbon trading model, has been slogging through an intense negotiation process with the Department of Climate Change's Dr Bill Slattery to refine a trading model that would enable soil carbon to be traded on the voluntary market. Bill is head of agriculture in the DCC and has said we need to demonstrate that we want it enough before we will achieve our aim. The negotations have resolved Bill's issues with the model and he has referred Ken Bellamy - the Carbon Coalition member who has invested heavily in this development work - to the Secretary of the Department.
Meanwhile, the targeted microbial formulations for nutrient transfer in agriculture developed by Ken's company Vital Resource Management Pty Ltd (VRM) have been accredited to The Australian Technology Showcase. The Showcase is a joint State and Federal Government program to promote leading-edge Australian technology Globally. To become accredited to the Showcase this technology has demonstrated to an independent assessment panel that it is: . Clearly innovative . Scientifically credible . Developed with significant local content . Commercially attractive . Demonstrably marketable and exportable . Socially and environmentally beneficial. Ken's regional trading model engages local communities, waste management services, big polluters, farmers, and local government organisations in a mutually rewarding process. The products which grow out of this accreditation are also approved on the Prime Carbon list of approved products as catalysts for soil carbon sequestration.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

First NZ Soil Carbon Conference

The first NZ Soil Carbon Conference is to be held in Hawke's Bay in June. Held over three days, the NZ Soil Carbon Conference will focus on the reality of climate change, biological farming and the huge opportunity the soil carbon market presents for New Zealand. International and national key note speakers have been secured including world renowned scientists and Louisa Kiely, convenors of the Carbon Coalition Against Global Warming in Australia.
The programme will also feature case studies presented by successful New Zealand biological/carbon farmers, local and central government perspectives, the stock exhange views. The Conference will also present a practical focus for growers on how to grow carbon and two optional field trips are planned for the last day of the Conference.
Master of Ceremonies: Brent Clothier, Science Leader, NZ Plant & Food Research

Day One
Tuesday 23rd June 2009
8.15am Delegates' registration at the Napier War Memorial Centre
8.45am Welcome to the NZ Soil Carbon Conference
9.00am The Global Food Crisis and Soil Carbon. Why the world needs Carbon Farmers: A Message from Professor Rattan Lal (Videolink) - Soil is the beginning of the food chain. Without it, we cannot feed the world.
9.20am Climate Change Reality - Dr David Wratt, Chief Scientist at NIWA
9.50am The ability of NZ soils to store carbon & the carbon cycle - Brent Clothier, Science Leader, NZ Plant & Food Research
10.20am Morning tea
11.00am Carbon Farming: the big picture - Louisa Kiely, Carbon Farmers of Australia. NSW rural woman of the year 2008
11.30am Policy constraints to carbon trading - Blair McClinton, executive manager of Saskatchewan Soil Conservation Association
12.00pm The carbon opportunity - Paul Smith
12.30pm Lunch
1.30pm Teaming with microbes - Nicole Masters
2.00pm Visual indicators for assessing the potential for carbon sequestration & GHG's - Graham Shepherd
2.30pm Paper: The importance of soil porosity - Dr Markus Deurer
2.45pm Afternoon tea
3.30pm Papatuankuku, Whenua, Oneone Nga Whanaunga The earth, the land the soil and their relationship - Percy Tipene, Chairman Te Waka Kai Ora
4.00pm Case Study: Microbial indicators and Carbon testing in the Waikato. Robin Janson, EcoSynergy Group
4.30pm Case Study: Growing milk and soil carbon - Hamish Galloway
4.45pm Case Study: Growing kiwifruit biologically - Tim Oliver
5.00pm Close of Day One.

Day Two
Wednesday 24th June 2009
8.30am Delegates gather at the War Memorial Centre
8.40am Welcome
8.50am The NZ farmer and the politics of the ETS - Max Purnell
9.15am Carbon measurement
9.45am The mechanics of trading: lessons from Canada - Blair McClinton
10.15am Morning tea
10.45am Carbon footprinting: Professor Caroline Saunders, Director of Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit, Lincoln University
11.15am Carbon and the stockmarket: Joanna Silver
11.45am Panel Discussion: question and answers from the speakers
12.30pm Lunch
1.30pm Paper: "The effects of Management in Three Primary Sectors on Soil Organic Matter and Structure". Peter Carey, Land Research Services
2.00pm Methods for increasing soil carbon - Frank van Steensel MSc
2.30pm Cover cropping and compost - Steve Erickson
3.00pm Afternoon tea
3.45pm Growing beef nutritionally - Ewan Campbell
4.15pm The future of farming - Dr Jon Tanner
4.45pm Soils for optimum wine production
5.00pm Finish
6.30pm Gala Dinner in the ballroom of the War Memorial Centre (optional) with keynote speaker Michael Kiely.

Day Three (Optional)
Thursday 25th June 2009
8.30am Strategy Meeting (Breakout Room 1 at the War Memorial Centre) until approximately 11am.
11.30am Field Trip A: Dairy trip to Onga Onga.
Cost $55 including lunch.
A bus visit to two successful biological diary blocks building soil carbon and nutrition. Delegates will be returned to the War Memorial Centre at approximately 5.00pm
11.30am Field Trip B: Pipfruit & Viticulture trip to Havelock North & Omahu.
Cost $55 including lunch.
A bus visit to a biologically managed organic apple block that is focused on building soil health. This will be followed by a trip to a conventional vineyard incorporating the biological approach with great results. Delegates will be returned to the War Memorial Centre at approximately 5.00pm.Delegates will be returned to the War Memorial Centre at approximately 5.00pm.


Friday, May 08, 2009

Minister Burke Responds to the Petition - PLEASE COMMENT



Thank you for your email of 6 march 2009 about the Soil Carbon Research Program (SCRP) and your petition of 10 March 2009. Climate Change is one of the greatest challenges facing primary industries, but also offers opportunities if we engage farming communities and invest in research and industry preparation. It is encouraging to see the depth of community interest shown in your petition. The Australian Government has committed itself to examining the opportunities for producivity gains that may flow from improving the level of carbon in agricultural soils.

The program covers all states and the Northern Territory. It will identify land uses and management practices that have the poptential to increase the levels of carbon in the soil across the nation's diverse farming systems - including cereal crops, sheep and beef grazing, sugarcane and vegetable farming, and irrigated and non-irrigated dairy. The SCRP will develop a national standard for measuring soil carbon levels and will assist with the development of a national dataset of soil carbon levels.

The Government recognises the important role that sound, peer reviewed science can have on influencing international accounting rules, negotiations and policy. The SCRP is a scientific research program and its findings wll be subject to peer review.

It is also important to highlight that the projects to be undertaken under the SCRP were recommended by an independent panel with extensive links to Australia's agricultural indstry, research institutions and fsrming sector. I believe that the panel is well positioned to select projects that address gaps in our knowledge.

Yours sincerely,

Tony Burke


Collaborative Science in Agriculture
A Brief Submission on Maximising Return on Investment in Soil Carbon Research

Statement of the Opportunity: The Minister for Agriculture has announced a $20 million investment in research into Soil Carbon, for which we are very grateful. The Soil Carbon Movement has long petitioned for this outcome, and we are anxious that Soil Carbon be given the opportunity to perform to its potential. That justice is seen to be done is the key to the Farm Community’s acceptance of the outcomes, given that the economic viability of many farm enterprises will be determined by these outcomes.

Context: The controversy over the sequestration potential of Australian soils is based on a methodological flaw in the National Carbon Accounting Scheme which saw gaps in the data skew the results and lead to the conclusion that Australian soils were more likely to be a source of emissions than a sink. The gaps in the data – the absence of new land management techniques that sequester carbon in soil – have been acknowledged by a former Australian Greenhouse Office executive. Unfortunately, the consensus opinion was formed before the ‘key gaps in the data’ were filled. Those gaps are still waiting to be filled – even after the projects that you announced this week are complete. The common belief led policymakers to see Agriculture as ‘problem’ rather than ‘opportunity’. Funding for trials was denied. Meanwhile farmers were recording rates of soil carbon increases 10 to 100-times faster than official science (by focussing on soil biology). Official science has also started to record higher rates of sequestration than the models, based on incomplete data, will allow.

Core Issue: A farmer could see the gaps in the NCAS research at a glance because he knows what to look for. Scientists are not fully briefed on emerging land management practices, they might construct methodologies that potentially do not reflect practical reality. This in turn could compromise the research. Where the outcome of this research underpins public policy that will affect the financial well-being of an entire industry, it becomes a critical issue.

Core Proposition: We recommend that a collaborative approach to science in Agriculture be pursued.

The professional farmer or grazier can help identify the landscape issues that should inform the construction of the study. The farmer in turn will learn more about scientific method. The Carbon Coalition has been developing these types of relationships for three years, engaging scientists and practitioners in five knowledge-sharing events, two of which have been National Carbon Farming Conferences. The scientists involved have included Prof. Richard Eckard, Prof. Peter Grace, Prof. Alex McBratney, Dr Jeff Baldock, Dr Brian Murphy, Dr Annette Cowie, Dr Greg Chapman, and Dr Yin Chan, who has long championed the capacity of Australian soils to sequester.

Collaborative Science in Agriculture is not novel. It was a finding of the 2020 Summit’s Rural Stream: "New participatory approaches to research, including on-ground research extension, are needed … The most effective way of generating on-ground change is by having producers actively involved in participatory approaches to research since ‘farmers are often first order innovators’."

We believe your announcement this week of nine key projects, the strategic nature of these studies, and their timing makes it imperative that we engage farmers in the process.


1. That the Minister requests the CSIRO which has overarching responsibility for the nine projects to engage members of the Carbon Farming community in discussions about the methodology chosen for the studies.
2. That the scientists listed above be consulted as to the sincere collaborative intention of the Carbon Farmers. And that the credibility of the studies in question would be guaranteed by such transparency.

Request: That a meeting be arranged as soon as possible between the relevant people at the Ministry, the CSIRO and a delegation of Carbon Farmers.

Thank you.

Michael Kiely
(And attached signatories).

Monday, May 04, 2009

Penny Wong's Emissions Trading Dream Becomes Nightmare

The Rudd Government's capitulation on its Climate Change legislation is good news for Agriculture because it paints the Government as a "Paper Tiger" - more bark than bite. Minister Wong would appear to be under pressure following the collapse of her legislation to establish Australia's emissions trading scheme. PM Rudd announced today that the scheme would be delayed for 12 months to allow for more negotiations. Introduction of the ETS is now planned for mid-2011 instead of mid-2010.
Penny Wong's 'crash through or crash' approach ended in the latter. PM Rudd announced that the Government was giving business the delay they wanted and a reduction in the price of carbon to $10/tonneCO2-e, down from $20 for the first year, a major concession to big emitters. The Government also offered the green lobby a possible emissions target of 25% of 2000 levels.
The announcement follows a decision by the Australian Greens to lower their demand for a 40% reduction in carbon emissions to 25%.
For Agriculture - and soil carbon in particular - the current dilemma shows what can be achieved with a little pressure. As Minister Burke urged, "There is no time like the present for producers around the world to be making the case to their governments as we go through the Road Map towards Copenhagen..." He says, in the latest Farm Policy Journal (February Quarter 2009) that we need to have the Kyoto process changed so that 'the science matches the accounting and the accounting matches the science..." He says: "Well managed pastures are not currently counted, but eventually we will have to find a way to include them if the accounting is to match the science... Good natural resource management on a farm is a better sequester of carbon than a plantation forest."