Perhaps it is of no surprise that Bingara in northern NSW is venturing into the relatively new area of Carbon Farming. Near to Bingara, a little over a century ago, the World’s hardest naturally occurring diamonds were discovered. Diamond, like coal, charcoal and graphite is elemental carbon. Carbon, in its organic form, is the common element of all life on Earth.
The Bingara diamonds have proved elusive, whereas carbon in the biosphere is abundant. There is twice as much carbon in soil than in the atmosphere and in all the living things of the biosphere combined. The Carbon Cycle is the system on planet Earth that exchanges carbon throughout the atmosphere and the biosphere. Living things grow, flourish and die; organic carbon is constantly being cycled.
With more carbon in soil, our soils are more productive. They are more fertile; can capture, store and exchange more of the other elements essential for life; and can hold more water. Sadly however, the last two centuries of mechanisation and chemical focused farming, have depleted the amount of soil carbon, putting it instead into the atmosphere and the oceans.
We know that our soils can hold more carbon than they currently do, and that our farms and pastures will be all the better for that, but how can we achieve it? Can it be done simply? Is it cost effective? How long will it take? What changes will be required on our farms?
Adjoining The Living Classroom in Bingara, The Carbon Farm, is a project being launched in May 2017. It will provide many of the answers. It will be always open for visitors, and it will utilise latest technology to measure, record and report the results.
The Carbon Farm is a community project. It consists of an area of 100 hectares of formerly degraded grazing land. It has been ‘at rest’ for nearly four years, and now it is about to be regenerated, to showcase the options for sequestering carbon back into soil. It will truly become a ‘diamond in the rough’!
The Carbon Farm will provide a display site for farmers to see and consider the many and varied options for soil carbon capture. Funded by government grants and by public and corporate donations The Carbon Farm will be available all year round for visitors to see for themselves the effectiveness of many and varied methods of soil carbon sequestration.
Rick Hutton – TCF Board Member – 22/04/2017