Monday, May 23, 2022

Soil carbon sequestration critical to becoming carbon neutral in 2050

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Mulloon Institute, Media Release, 27 October 2021

The renowned Mulloon Institute says the Prime Minister’s plan to include Soil Carbon Sequestration in the 2050 Carbon Neutral roadmap is a critical element to reducing emissions and reducing the impact of global warming.

Rehydrated landscapes are key to carbon sequestration and improving farm resilience to climatic extremes. (Mulloon Creek Natural Farms, NSW). Photo: Mulloon Institute

Chairman of the Institute, Gary Nairn AO, says soils hold three times more carbon than the atmosphere so has huge potential, through photosynthesis, to sequester (draw down) carbon, “Globally, soils contain more carbon than plants and the atmosphere combined. The solution therefore is literally right under our feet – soil and soil carbon sequestration – Australia has an abundance of soil, and soil that has been depleted of carbon over the past two centuries. The opportunity is now there to transfer it from the atmosphere and put it back where it belongs, in the soil.”

According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) soils, if managed sustainably, can sequester up to 0.56 petagrams of carbon (or 2.05 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent) per year, having the potential to offset yearly as much as 34% of agricultural global greenhouse gas emissions. This will help position Australia as a global leader in sustainable, carbon neutral agricultural commodities.

Mr. Nairn says, “In Australia, agriculture comprises 13% of its total emissions, so with our landmass, farmers can contribute significantly to its reduction and at the current price of carbon of around $20 per tonne, but rising very quickly, that is not just a goal or a slogan, it is a great opportunity for our agricultural sector to get on board for net-zero”.

“At the Mulloon Institute we have a landscape rehydration and regeneration strategy to not only address this issue, but in doing so, help deliver potentially substantial financial returns for Australian agriculture and Australian farmers. Key to carbon sequestration is water. A hydrated landscape will speed up carbon sequestration. The recent IPCC Report particularly highlighted a future with less rain overall but more intensive events risking flooding and erosion. Therefore, the better utilisation of what rain does is crucial. Currently in Australia 50% of all rain that falls is lost through rapid runoff or evaporation due to poor ground coverage. Rectifying this can be straightforward and not necessarily expensive”.

“Carbon sequestration means healthier soils and more nutrient dense food. Increasing soil carbon is one of the substantial strategies required to reach net-zero. By regenerating our soils, we can sequester more carbon underground and slow global warming,” Mr. Nairn says.

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