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Soil carbon needs a lot of work - BRS

- Friday, August 07, 2009

A review released by the Bureau of Rural Sciences (BRS) has concluded that while there may be possibilities for the inclusion of organic soil carbon in a future emissions trading scheme, a great deal of research will be required before the nedds of a trading market would be met.


In the report, the BRS concluded "The net benefits of carbon sequestration in soils may not be as large as first expected (e.g. due to decomposition) and some processes that increase carbon sequestration may have adverse environmental effects, particularly on biodiversity and ecosystems. Uncertainties in measurement also mean that it is difficult to bundle organic soil carbon into tradeable units. Changes in land-use or management practices may also release stored organic soil carbon and would need to be considered.

 

Potential participants in soil carbon trading are likely to require more information on the likely increases in organic soil carbon including the impacts of climate variability and climate change, the effects on ssociated greenhouse gases and the likely responses of land managers to incentives. Individual land managers will require information and user-friendly tools to help them trade small amounts of carbon over short periods. Further research is warranted into the effects of farming systems on storage and distribution of organic soil carbon and the effects of salinity and acidity on net sequestration of carbon in soils."

While the BRS conclusion seems to support recent comments by Agriculture Minister Tony Burke about the difficulties associated with including agriculture in the CPRS, they reaffirm the need for a big boost in research investment - which hasn't happened at anywhere near the scale that will be required as yet.

 
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