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Monthly Intellectual Compost - July 2019

Welcome to the July edition bringing intellectual compost to your farming and soil practice. Recently we published a number of resources through our channels that received positive feedback as to their impact. This edition aggregates some of this in one place, to make a good intellectual compost!

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July Summary - This last month we have continued to support Australian soil carbon farming projects by providing independent soil science services across the industry. Highlights include dialogue with US based Indigo Ag about the state of play of soil carbon measurement, and participating in an exciting project led by Volt Farmer and their Climate Smart Farm Project. The up and coming highlight will be next week's Carbon Farming Conference and Expo! We'll bring you much more in August about this and remember, if you want to find out about carbon farming, we can help and welcome hearing from you... just make contact.

Climate Smart Farm Project

Volt Farmer launched its “Electricity to Soil’ project on the Mornington Peninsula. Using a combination of a solar farm along with carbon farming, the project will provide farmers and the local community with technology to dramatically increase the soil health of participating farms.

“Soil carbon ... is created by increasing the biological activity of the farmland and then measuring the increased amount of carbon being stored deep in the soil by roots. Providing farm diversification income from sheep grazed solar farms, habitat creation and educational tours, as well as carbon farming, creates a win-win for everyone.” Stephen Todd - Founder of Volt Farmer said.

By managing pasture, bio-diversity and grazing animals in a way that mimics nature, the plants suck carbon dioxide out of the air and leak it out of their roots as sugars. These sugars feed the soil organisms which then release nutrients which feed the plants. The upside to this process is that farms increase their soil’s fertility, drought resistance and massively reduce the dependency on expensive fertilisers.

The ‘Dromana Climate-Smart Farm Project’ is the first project in Australia to combine accredited carbon farming methods, renewable energy production, and education.

“The pilot projects we [Volt Farmer] are currently building in Victoria are designed to showcase how clean energy production can complement regenerative farming and boost local economies. Dromana has been chosen as one of the signature projects, due to the positive response local grid operator United Energy and Peninsula farmers”.

As part of the exciting project, schools and colleges, as well as universities, will be able to plug into streaming data about climate, renewable energy, biodiversity, soil health. They will also get to see how blockchain is transforming how these critical elements can now be measured as part of ‘Smart Ecological Contracts’ for banks and insurance companies looking to reduce investment risk.

Adrianna Marchand the project’s accredited soil carbon testing officer who was responsible for measuring the World First issued official soil carbon certificates said “We take 1m deep soil core samples to establish an existing carbon baseline then measure again next year to quantify how much carbon has been stored in the soil."

Facilitated by Volt Farmer's Stephen Todd, attendees including Chris Brayne MP, Councillor Anonetta Celi, inventor of the Soilkee pasture renovator and farmer Niels Olsen, and a number of key stakeholders were treated to a soil coring demonstration to obtain samples for soil carbon monitoring.

Soil sampling demonstration at the Dromana Climate Smart Farm
Soil sampling demonstration at the Dromana Climate Smart Farm

Volt Farmer are developing a number of showcase ‘Climate Smart Farm Projects’ which aim to inspire sustainable and regenerative development of farmland, landfill sites and communities. These showcase projects combine local renewable energy production with carbon farming as well as providing local economic and educational development opportunities. It is really exciting to be planting feet on the ground on this project in Dromana. Much more to come from this in the future, stay tuned!

2019 Carbon Farming Conference and Expo

2019 marks the 9th National Carbon Farming Conference & Expo presented by Carbon Farmers of Australia.

The conference explores and showcases the latest knowledge on:

  • Carbon Farming in Australia and internationally

  • Farmer experiences in Carbon Farming

  • What Carbon Farming methods are working?

  • Innovation in Trading mechanisms

  • Future methods

  • Who buys Carbon Farming Credits and why?

  • Is there a market outside of the Australian Emissions Reduction Fund?

  • What is the future of this Market?

  • How do I engage if I want to?

If you'd like to know more about carbon farming, contact Bootstrap Environmental Services.

Climate Risk in Agriculture Conference

Presentation slides are now available from the Climate Risk in Agriculture Conference and this is great news! We attended the conference and are so happy to share this resource with youif you could not make it to this sold out event. Videos will be available soon with thanks to West Gippsland CMA!

New Paper Points to Soil Pore Structure as Key to Carbon Storage

The findings, published last week in the scientific journal Nature Communications, reveal the importance of soil pore structure for stimulating soil carbon accumulation and protection. "Understanding how carbon is stored in soils is important for thinking about solutions for climate change".

Intrinsic and Core Benefits of Increasing Soil Organic Carbon

Scientists highlight that increasing organic carbon in agricultural soils would have multiple co-benefits such as food security, adaptation of climate change. Soil Organic Carbon (SOC) also benefits soil structure, soil hydrology, ground biodiversity, and nutrient cycles as numerous studies demonstrate. Hear more from CIRCASA.

The Value of Soil Carbon

Soil carbon relates in different ways to human well-being including altruistic to ecosystems services and bequest, inter generational. Abstract: "Soil carbon has an economic value insofar it is associated with an asset that provides benefits for humans. Demonstrating and measuring the economic value of soil carbon can provide valuable information for policy making. It makes explicit that soil carbon is not freely available. It signals the scarcity of the resource from a social point of view and also the extent to which investment in soil carbon should be prioritised relative to other investments. It also helps policy makers what type of economic instruments or incentives are necessary to align privately and socially optimal soil conservation decisions. In other words, economic valuation of soil carbon provides information to help assess how efficiently a particular land management can re-allocate the goods and services from soil to different and often competing uses. The chapter stresses the importance of the context of value formation by linking human preferences, knowledge and institutions to soil carbon. Then, by means of a conceptual framework the chapter links the types of ecosystem services (supporting, regulating, provisioning and cultural services) derived from soil carbon to economic value components using the Total Economic Value approach. Mapping ecosystem services values of soil carbon needs to account for who appropriates the different values (private vs. social values), whether the values and direct or indirect so as to avoid double counting. Emphasis is given to the natural insurance value of soil carbon."

Research: Soil Microbiome Mediates Positive plant Piversity‐productivity Relationships in Late Successional Grassland Species

Research: Which processes drive the productivity benefits of biodiversity remain a critical, but unanswered question in soil ecology. They tested whether the soil microbiome mediates the diversity‐productivity relationships among late successional plant species. They found that productivity increased with plant richness in diverse soil communities, but not with low‐diversity mixtures of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi or in pasteurised soils.

Soil Ecology Research: When and where plant‐soil feedback may promote plant coexistence: a meta‐analysis.

Research: Plant‐soil feedback (PSF) theory provides a powerful framework for understanding plant dynamics by integrating growth assays into predictions of whether soil communities stabilise plant–plant interactions.

If you want more information on how you can be involved in carbon farming, don't hesitate to make contact.


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