Carbon farming explained at Elders Presents online event
The rules, the practical steps and the profitability of carbon farming were explained during last night’s online Elders Presents forum.
Climate Change Authority acting chief executive Shayleen Thompson told the forum that soil carbon projects were growing in popularity under the new pricing scheme.
“We are really pleased with the way the soil projects are going under the scheme,” she said.
“At the moment, we have 83 projects that are registered, and another 40 under assessment. It’s really starting to take off.”
Fellow panel member Market Advisory Group managing director Raphael Wood said he expected demand for carbon credits would also grow.
“Demand is quite low at the moment, but it is going to pick up,” he said.
Mr Wood pointed to LNG projects that would require carbon offsets and commitments from corporations like Telstra Wesfarmers and BHP to become carbon neutral.
He said his consultancy expected the price of carbon to sit at around $30 a tonne of carbon by the end of the decade but stressed the forecast assumed the same policy settings and that many factors could affect the price.
It was vital, Mr Wood said, to ensure the project was well designed by experts familiar with both carbon pricing and agriculture, so that the benefits were maximised and to be sure all the possibilities for soil carbon capture were canvassed.
“Get advice from your agricultural advisor on your carbon project and what it will look like, from a commercial perspective, on its own economics related to your farm’s productivity,” Mr Wood said.
Ms Thompson added that those carbon credits could only be earned when landholders can demonstrate “newness” regarding any project or management practice that built soil carbon.
“It’s something that causes people consternation at times because … if you’re a great farmer and you’ve already been doing lots of great things on your land, you’re not necessarily going to be able to get carbon credits for those, you actually have to do something new and different,” she said.
In any case, Gippsland-based Thomas Elder Consulting carbon farming expert Noel Jansz said, sustainable farming practices, like rotating grazing with cropping, could build eligibility for credits while lifting the productivity and profitability of commercial agriculture.
North Queensland TEC expert Peter Spies highlighted the value of soil organic matter when water was limiting.
“An increase of about 1 per cent in soil carbon equates to 168,000 extra litres of water that can be stored in addition to the water holding capacity of the soil itself,” Mr Spies said.
“That’s almost two buckets of extra water per square metre.”
The full recording of the Elders Presents online carbon farming event is available below