Beef 2012

Measuring and managing soil carbon and emissions

Beef Central, 15/05/2012

Ed CharmleyLivestock producers attending Beef Australia 2012 in Rockhampton last week learnt about practical management decisions they can make to reduce their carbon footprint, while maintaining productivity.

Three of the country’s leading climate scientists presented findings from Federal Government-funded research looking at ways to measure and manage soil carbon and greenhouse gas emissions in livestock operations.

The ‘Carbon, Tax and Hot Air’ seminar gave producers the chance to meet researchers and learn how they can manage the impacts of the changing climate and take advantage of the opportunities it presented.

CSIRO scientist Dr Ed Charmley said methane emissions from beef cattle in northern Australia contributed about 10 percent of Australia’s greenhouse gasses.

“The majority of emissions from the cattle industry come from the production of methane in the rumen,” Dr Charmley said.

“However we have tremendous potential to look at what management strategies are available to us today that can have an impact on methane emissions.”

“The good news is that there are a range of things producers can do now to minimise the amount of methane an animal emits and there will be even more opportunities as new technologies become available to us,” he said.

For example, land managers in Queensland could introduce tropical legumes into the cattle diet, as this had been shown to reduce the emissions of methane.

Attendees at the seminar also heard from Terry McCosker, RCS Agribusiness, who provided an overview of the carbon cycle and measuring and selling carbon and discussed the implications of the carbon tax on the grazing industry.

CSIRO’s Raphael Viscarra Rossel outlined the soil carbon research program and described methods being used to characterise soil carbon at local, national and global level.

Dr Viscarra Rossel said the seminar had helped de-mystify the carbon tax debate and given producers a better understanding of what it may mean for their business.

Climate Change Policy acting assistant secretary Julie Gaglia from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry said the Australian Government had invested $46.2 million in research and on-farm demonstration of new technologies and management practices.

“The Climate Change Research Program is a significant research effort that is providing practical solutions for agriculture to adapt and respond to a changing climate,” she said.

Australia’s Farming Future is a Federal Government climate change initiative for primary industries. It provides funding over four years to help primary producers adapt and respond to climate change.

The Climate Change Research Program (CCRP) is a key element of Australia’s Farming Future and provides funding for research projects and on-farm demonstration activities under the three priority areas of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving soil management and research into adaptation management practices.


Newly-produced CCRP northern and southern Australian research/producer case-studies on reducing the carbon footprint can be viewed here:



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