IT was champagne all round when Carbon for Life founder Christine Jones launched the Australian Soil

30 Mar, 2007 08:45 PM
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The pilot program is the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

It will allow Northern Agricultural region and south coastal region farmers to register up to four 20ha so-called Defined Sequestration Areas (DSA) on any portion of their properties.

The area will be soil tested each year for an initial three-year period and farmers will be paid $90/t annually and retrospectively for the increase in their soil carbon.

The soil test involves taking 110cm cores for testing and a 0.15pc increase in soil carbon would be equivalent to adding 23.1t/ha of carbon , earning a healthy $21.19/ha per year.

Farmers are well aware from soil tests that a good organic carbon measure is a sign of healthy soil, so any measure to increases soil carbon would have two beneficial effects.

The concept of using soil as a carbon sink has not been accepted on an official level, even though it is potentially the largest sink in the world that can be easily accessed by direct human action.

Many traditional forms of agriculture result in a loss of soil carbon, and it would seem that an acceptance of soil as a carbon sink would also re-quire the carbon loss to be included in Australia¹s greenhouse calculations.

The scheme is the result of a private arrangement betw-een Carbon for Life and Rio Tinto Coal, which will provide funding for the initial three years of the trial.

Carbon for Life founder Christine Jones said under the current pilot project, one landholder can have up to four DSAs on their property if they would like to experiment with different soil building techniques to a maximum of 80ha.

³It would only require a 1pc increase in soil carbon on 15 million hectares of land to sequester 8GT of carbon dioxide in the soil, which is equivalent to the greenhouse emissions for the entire planet,² Dr Jones said.

³To pay farmers to sequester this carbon at the rate of $25/t of carbon dioxide would cost $200 billion.

³That might sound like a lot of money but in the corporate world, it is peanuts.

³With a mere $200b, we could reverse global warming in a matter of years and markedly improve soil productivity at the same time.

³It¹s not about money ‹ it¹s about managing money to manage the carbon cycle ‹ for the future of us all.²

Visit the Amazing Carbon website at http://www.amazingcarbon.com/ to find out more.

p More reports next week.

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