Soil Carbon: What’s in it for you?

May 10, 2010

Federal Government presses “GO” button for soil carbon dollars for farmers: Learn more at a workshop at the Warialda Golf and Bowling Club  June 1st 2010.

Woolgrowers Michael and Louisa Kiely campaigned for four years to see farmers given the right to trade their soil carbon. They campaigned under the banner of the Carbon Coalition and a wide membership. Now they have set up Carbon Farmers of Australia to help growers find their way through this new confusing market. “Our aim is to see that growers are paid fairly for the carbon they grow.”

Farmers will soon be able to be paid for the work they do to build healthy soils. While at the world’s attention was on Copenhagen, the Department of Climate Change quietly released the rules for a voluntary carbon market which would allow farmers to sell soil carbon offsets to people who want to be carbon neutral and help farmers capture CO2 at the same time. The “Voluntary Market” is not part of the ETS because it is voluntary. So the delay in the CPRS is great news for farmers. Now the increase in costs which would have been passed on under the CPRS will not occur for 3 years, but we have the opportunity for trade in soil carbon.

“The National Carbon Offset Standard provides Australian businesses, particularly farmers, with the opportunity to develop offset credits for voluntary carbon markets.  These opportunities include offsets from increased soil carbon and from other land-based emissions sources,” says the Government’s announcement.

But what if there is a change of Government in this years Federal Election? “Both sides love soil carbon: the Voluntary Market for soil carbon is politician proof because Tony Abbott has declared it a central part of his Climate Change policy,” says Louisa Kiely.

Carbon Farmers of Australia calls itself a ‘grower’s agent and representative’. It means we take the growers side, explaining contracts and advising them where the best deals are, and where the risks are lowest,” says CFA’s Louisa Kiely. CFA is also an education and information service.

A workshop scheduled for the 1st June at the Warialda Golf and Bowling Club  is scheduled to provide an insight into soil carbon. Michael and Louisa will facilitate the workshop and provide an insight into aspects of soil carbon, including the carbon cycle, benefits of soil carbon, carbon farming and how to market soil carbon through a mandatory or voluntary system. The training is covered by FarmReady which means that farmers have the fee reimbursed.

While the workshop is targeted towards farmers, other professionals working in the rural industry including agronomists, rural suppliers and government employees are encouraged to attend. Stock and station agents and other produce traders should also take advantage of this chance to become “soil carbon ready” because it is part of the fastest growing market in the world and they will be called upon to take part in it.

“The first step farmers should take if they think they might get involved somewhere down the track is have their soil carbon score ‘baselined’. “It’s like opening a bank account. All the while you are thinking about it you could be growing carbon, but you can’t sell what you don’t measure,” says Louisa.  
For more information regarding the workshop and registration forms, contact Louisa Kiely on (02) 6374 0329, email: