Menu

Carbon Farming – Getting Started

Branding Ag Excellence
Video Transcript

Carbon farming is where landholders undertake activities that either stop carbon going into the atmosphere in the form of various greenhouse gases such as nitrous oxide from fertilizer or methane from cattle or manure, or they take carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the vegetation in soils.

Turning Carbon into Carbon Credits

Then they have to go through a process to turn it into carbon credits. The first thing farmers have to do is determine whether it is a good fit for their activities, their business or their stage in life. It really is very difficult to have a broad brush to say, this is what all farmers should do because for some farmers one thing will work, for others it won’t.

So, everyone just needs to first get more information. The carbon farming initiative and carbon farming is a voluntary activity. Farmers are not responsible for their emissions but there are opportunities to create money out of it. Landholders need to look at, and farmers just how does carbon fitting into it.

Property Management Through the Carbon Prism

Look into your total property enterprise or your total property management and look at it through the carbon prism, because there will be opportunities and there might be other activities that aren’t worth it. For example, for the tree planting, you know doing your land care plannings, if you do your total property plan or your whole farm plan and you identify areas that might be pretty ordinary production wise, then trees might be a very good reason to do it, to plant in that area, and then if you can get paid from doing that activity as well, then you’re going to benefit.

But you need to understand that it’s not just about the carbon gross margin so to speak, but it’s also about the cross-production benefits that come with the activities that you undertake. So, if it’s planting trees to provide wind breaks or reducing wind speeds, if it’s increasing soil carbon in your soil to get more moisture content and more cation exchange.

Practical Activities for Carbon Farming

If you’re a dairy farmer, for example, your enteric fermentation, the burping of the cattle, is obviously a big emission of methane, so putting something like cotton seed in will reduce the amount of enteric fermentation that goes on will reduce the amount of methanogens but it also increases milk yield.

If you’re a broad acre cropper you’d have to look at something like a fertilizer efficiency, looking at variable rate technology and increasing the synchronization to reduce the volitilizaion of your nitrogen. Not only will you get paid to reduce the amount of fertilizer you’re using, but you’ll be using less fertilizer as well, and what you use will be better used by the plants, which is going to increase the efficiency of your property.

These are all really good activities, and now there is this added incentive to bring in carbon as well, to actually get carbon for it. Farmers can start right now. We have the rules and the regulations in place. The legislation has been passed. There is demand for carbon credits now. We have the methodologies, as we call them, where people can actually start to do the calculations.

For example if people had planted trees after the 1st of July, 2007 and they’re native mixed species, so their typical land care plantings, they should be seriously looking at what the value of those plantations are, because there is a demand for those carbon credits. But you have to go through a process of getting them accredited, and once you’ve got those you can trade them if you wish.

Be Informed About Carbon Farming

The first step is to go to an information session that’s being put on by a number of organizations and a lot’s coming through the federal government. But that’s the first step is to find that first bit of information. You can also get onto a whole range of websites. One of the best is the government website at www.climatechange.gov.au/cfi and there’s a handbook in there and that’s a really good place to start just to have a look at what is out there and whether it’s something that would suit you or your enterprise

Ben Keogh, of Australian Carbon Traders, provides an overview of carbon farming.

Leave a Comment

Back to top