Carbon Farming

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Australia is committed to reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 5% below 2000 levels by 2020. The Government has implemented its Direct Action Plan to help meet its GHG emissions target. The Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) is the centrepiece of the Direct Action Plan.

HLN’s ‘Carbon Farming and your business’ project aims to deliver information and support to landholders on how to integrate greenhouse gas (GHG) abatement and carbon management into land and farm planning. We can provide you with credible and regionally relevant information on carbon farming and the ERF.

What is the Emission Reduction Fund?

The ERF will support Australian landholders and farmers to take practical, direct action to reduce emissions and improve the environment. Through the ERF, the Government can purchase carbon credits (ACCUs), providing incentives for landholders to proactively reduce their GHG emissions by adopting new carbon farming practices on farm.

To participate in the ERF you must develop a project that follows the rules set out in an approved method, to measure the abatement it delivers. Projects are awarded one ACCU for each tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent of sequestered carbon or avoided emissions.

For more information on approved methods and how to participate visit the Clean Energy Regulator website www.cleanenergyregulator.gov.au

Greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture

Agriculture is responsible for 16% of Australia’s GHG emissions, with livestock and agricultural soils being the largest sources of the potent GHGs methane and nitrous oxide.

Agriculture contributes to GHG emissions through:

  • Cultivating soils can increase the breakdown of soil organic matter, resulting in higher emissions of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.
  • Applying nitrogen fertiliser results in emissions of nitrous oxide, a strong GHG; while alternatively growing legumes can assist with storing both atmospheric nitrogen and carbon in the soil.
  • Grazing livestock releases emissions of methane from rumen digestion, and both methane and nitrous oxide from manure.

Our agricultural landscape also has the ability to capture and store carbon by:

  • Planting trees which store carbon dioxide through growth. Carbon is stored in the living parts of plants (stems, branches, leaves & roots), in leaf litter, woody debris and in soil organic matter.
  • Increasing soil organic carbon not only removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but it improves soil health. Although there is a limit on the amount of organic carbon that can be stored in soils, the large losses in the past means that many Australian agricultural soils have the potential for large increases. Many management practices that are effective in increasing soil organic carbon are also effective in improving crop and pasture yields.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Fact Sheet Series:

Case studies

Everyone can make a contribution to reducing GHG emissions through the management choices they make. For individual farm businesses there is a two-stage process involved when embarking on an assessment of a farm’s carbon footprint:

  1. Estimate what your emissions are (it is recommended you use a GHG emissions calculator)
  2. Investigate opportunities to reduce and/or offset those emissions

HLN carried out on-farm GHG snapshots on eight farming properties across the Holbrook region, with the aim of establishing a GHG emissions baseline for each farm business.

The case studies were developed using the Greenhouse Gas Accounting Framework (GAF) calculator for Australian Dairy, Sheep, Beef or Grains farms. The calculator was developed by the University of Melbourne and uses the Australian National Greenhouse Gas Inventory method to estimate the source and scale or GHG emissions from agricultural enterprises. The calculator was used to determine the current GHG emissions on the property and scenarios were modelled to determine emission reduction options.

The three gases carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) were accounted for and expressed as tonnes of CO2 equivalent (t CO2-e). Carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) is a term for describing different GHGs in a common unit, with regards to their global warming potential. For any quantity and type of GHG, CO2-e signifies the amount of CO2 which would have the equivalent global warming impact.

These three gases are emitted in the normal course of agricultural production, including livestock enteric fermentation, wastes, diesel machinery and fertilisers. Importantly the amount produced is influenced by farm management decisions.

Case studies

Factsheets

Carbon Videos

Getting involved

At HLN we can calculate your on-farm GHG emissions and provide you with a carbon snapshot of your farm.

All we require is information such as:

  • Annual rainfall
  • Stock numbers
  • Area and type of crops
  • Tractor size
  • Fuel usage
  • Grazing regimes
  • Supplementary feed information
  • Soil test results

If you would like to receive a carbon snapshot of your farm, please contact the HLN office on 02 6036 3181 or [email protected]

Why all the fuss about greenhouse gases?

©Fertcare

 

Phosphorus Budgeting Tool

This tool was developed as part of the ‘Carbon Farming and your business’ project to enable farmers to calculate the rate of phosphorus required for their property based on stocking rate, current phosphorus levels and production goals.

Phosphorus Budget Tool | Excel Doc

 User guidelines

Feed Testing Program

The feed testing program aims to deliver a feed test and budget extension service that builds knowledge, skills and capacity of landholders in the Holbrook Landcare Network (HLN) community and build their capacity to adopt practices that improve long term productivity. The  program is now in its second year and is part of the ‘Carbon Farming and your Business’ project.

Landholders can gain a better understanding of the nutritional quality of their feed including energy, protein, dry matter digestibility and omega fatty acids. By maximising feed quality and matching it to the nutritional requirements of livestock, producers are able improve the production efficiency of animals by either turning off animals earlier or growing more Kg of beef in the same time and the same level of animals, resulting in a reduced emissions intensity of the herd.

Who is eligible? All landholders within the HLN region are eligible to register for the feed testing program with sampling scheduled to begin in January 2017.

Who is involved? After registering, you can contact HLN to organise for us to come and take feed samples or alternatively, we have hay corers available to be borrowed at our office. HLN will coordinate the sampling and samples will be sent to the NSW DPI Feed Quality Service is Wagga Wagga. Feed testing results will be mailed out. Participants are also encouraged to attend the feed testing results and interpretation workshops which aim to assist landholders in better understanding the nutritional quality of feed and alternative management practices.

Cost: The first 3 samples will be charged at $10 each. Additional feed sampled can be requested and will be charged at $55 each.

How can I register? To register for the program please complete the registration form by clicking here and send to; PO Box 121, Holbrook NSW 2641.  Email to [email protected]

You can view the program flyer by clicking here

 

Useful links

Department of Environment

Department of Agriculture

Clean Energy Regulator

Carbon Market Institute

myCarbonFarming