Gippsland farm world first on carbon storage

A Gippsland farm is the first in the world to be eligible for soil credits under the Paris Agreement.

The carbon credits were issued to Niels and Marja Olsen and the Grounds Keeping Carbon Project for capturing and storing carbon in the soil on their Hallora farm. The carbon credits were the first issued for a soil carbon project under the Emissions Reduction Fund.

The project showcases the work of the SoilKee Pasture Renovator, which combines aeration, top dressing, green manuring and mixed species seeding, to improve pasture and build soil carbon.

The carbon credits were hailed as a breakthrough by the Chair of the Clean Energy Regulation, David Parker. He described the project as a beacon of innovation, calling it “a triple win in aiding international efforts to address climate resilience, improving soil health and food productivity, and the bottom line for farmers.”

As part of its Healthy Soils Sustainable Farms program, West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (WGCMA) ran a three-year SoilKee demonstration on the Buffalo farm of Madeline Buckley and Ross Batten.

Partnerships and Engagement Programs Coordinator, Tony Gardner said deep soil core samples from the demonstration plots showed a massive increase in soil carbon.

“It is exciting to see the work at the Olsen’s farm has resulted in the world’s first ever carbon credits for a soil carbon project and, importantly, it has demonstrated a new technology that could have such a significant impact for farmers and the environment.”

Sequestering carbon in the soil not only benefits pastures but can reduce the use of fertilisers and improve water holding capacity, which impacts on the health of our waterways.

Increasing the amount of carbon captured in the soil has the potential to increase farm profitability, while contributing the equivalent of a forest worth of trees to environmental health.

Mr Gardner said the WGCMA continued to work with local farmers to improve profitability and productivity.

“In June this year, we are hosting the Gippsland Climate Risk in Agriculture 2019 Conference, examining climate change and what it means for farmers. This will cover topics from building farm resilience through to carbon farming opportunities.”

For more information on the Soil Carbon Farming Project, visit https://www.bootstrap.net.au/carbonfarming.

For information on the WGCMA SoilKee Pasture Demonstration, go to:

https://www.wgcma.vic.gov.au/for-landholders/gippsland-soil-trials/soilkee-renovator-soil-pasture-demonstration

Details of the Gippsland Climate Risk in Agriculture 2019 Conference are available on the Events Calendar at www.wgcma.vic.gov.au.

May 2018 - Soil cores L-R Aerated, Control, Soilkee SoilKee cores were dark, moist, humic with worm activity. The root mat had broken down. pH 5.5 The other cores were grey, dry with root mat present. pH 4.5

The WGCMA’s SoilKee demonstration plots showed a massive increase in soil carbon. The SoilKee core (on right) was dark, moist, humic with worm activity and root mat had broken down. The other cores were grey, dry with root mat present.