How farming can fight climate change

| May 14, 2019

Australia’s National Soil Advocate, former Governor-General Major General Michael Jeffery, has called on the major political parties to cut through the climate change debate and recognise that farmers have much of the answer to sequestering carbon.

In a proposal submitted to the Ministers and Shadow Ministers for Agriculture and Water Resources, Environment and Climate Change, General Jeffery quotes numerous scientific studies that show that healthy soils have the capacity to absorb sufficient CO2 to meet Australia’s Paris Agreement target.

He has called on “the next Australian government to commit to prioritising the promotion and resourcing of a rapid transition to regenerative farming practices as the means to neutralise our CO2 emissions, and in the process, create a prosperous farming and food secure nation”.

The submission says “as the National Advocate for Soil Health, I strongly believe that current political and public debate on the subject has failed to address a potentially key solution: to use the CO2 drawdown capacity of a regenerated agricultural landscape to meet all our existing industrial emission targets and probably those emanating from the processing of our overseas oil, gas and coal exports”.

“The community and particularly young people are increasingly concerned about climate change. This concern has been reinforced by Sir David Attenborough’s TV series “The Planet”, the UN Report of 6 May on “Unprecedented Species Extinction Rates”, the recent climate demonstrations by school children Australia wide and a Lowy Institute poll of 8 May 2019. Neither major political party appears to have cut through to the public with the climate policies they are currently espousing”.

“Our agricultural landscape comprises 470 million hectares, approximately 55% of the Australian continent”.

“If we could draw down 1.2t CO2 per ha, we would neutralise our industrial emissions, whilst a 4.4t per ha draw down would neutralise both our industrial and export emissions”.

General Jeffery urged the incoming Government to urgently review its climate change policies to reflect the enormous potential of Australia’s farms to sequester CO2 and provide the opportunity for farmers to earn carbon credits.

Read the submission – A clear and simple solution to Australia’s carbon emissions


One Comment

  1. Alan Stevenson

    Alan Stevenson

    May 14, 2019 at 10:47 am

    Travellers to the African national parks like the Serengeti have reported that the grazing animals move on before the grass is exhausted. This means that the vegetation is able to renew itself quickly for the next onslaught.

    Those returning to Australia have emulated this concept by increasing the fencing around their properties and keeping their herds moving every few days. In this way they have managed to increase the capacity of their land and run bigger herds.

    Twenty years ago, when this idea was introduced, the surrounding graziers found it difficult to believe, but were forced to face the facts. Properties using this technique were always greener than those where more traditional methods were employed.

    What this is telling us is that our farmers are very conservative and tend to rely on methods passed down from their parents (a world-wide concept). They are not necessarily the ideal custodians of the land. Everyone should be open to new ideas, however alien they appear to be on the surface.

    Land clearing in Queensland seems to be a great idea and necessary for better crop management. However, experience in Western Australia has shown that it tends to increase water runoff, degradation of the land and increased salt being brought to the surface (much of the country was under the sea in geological times).

    With the increase in population land management is becoming much more important and cannot be left to politicians and traditional farmers. Science must be brought in to the equation.