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Australian experiences - Carbon farming is the future of agriculture

12th May 2017

Source: South Burnett Times, Tobi Loftus, 8th May 2017

This article comes from a newspaper in Australia and details some of the opportunities for Australian farmers to reduce emissions and cut costs through the Emissions Reductions Fund (a funding scheme in Australia to help farmers implement carbon practices on-farm.)

Drones, measuring fertiliser and new technologis are just some ways farmers are able to embrace carbon farming.

The Burnett Mary Regional Group has run a carbon farming project over the past four years which has aimed to bring new, sustainable agriculture techniques to the Burnett. Michelle Haases who ran the programme is now organising an Ag Climate Forum to gather thoughts at the end of the programme. She explains, "the programme was about the sustianability of farming practices, for instance a farmer could have been applying a large amount of fertiliser per hectare for the last 20 years, so instead, though the programme they could conduct soil tests and wee what the soil nutrient levels were and apply the amount of fertiliser based on full nutrition."

"If you are doing that, you're not losing fertiliser through rain events and in theory there should be a cost saving to the farmer by doing that. That's not to say that farmers aren't doing it already."

"It's a pretty exciting time for farmers in the world of robotics and drones, as there is some technology available in terms of precision agriculture and soil compaction to save time and reduce herbicide use," Ms Haase said.

"Its all about proactive change for efficiency and sustainablility so farmers can make money and reduce the impact on the environment." Ms Haase said carbon farming practices could potentially earn farmers extra income on top of being good for the environment. 

"Through the emissions reductions fund there may be scope for landholders and farmers to earn income by adopting a practice on their farm that can earn Australian carbon credit," she said. "Emphasis on the word may is important though, as its a very complex process." However Ms Haase explained that the main take away from the past four years was that there was a place for carbon farming in the Burnett region.

"It has been a difficult project as its a new tyopic, but the level of interest has grown the longer the project has been around which demonstrates there is a place for it," she said.

"People are interested regardless of whether or not they do or don't believe in climate change. They are interested in reducing their impact and being sustainable."

She said that over the past four years, scientists has been conducting researc on farms in the region to see how climate farming impacted the environment. "They have been measuring emissions, running trials on-farms and implementing practice change," she said. "They collected data beforehand and over the four years on emissions. Some of the findings show yes, we can reudce emissions, but then the question is if it is profitable."

The research will be presented at the Ag Climate Forum which signals the end of the project.

Source: South Burnett Times