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Improving soil (and the planet) with carbon farming

Ask anyone in the agriculture industry about the importance of soil, and they’ll tell you that it’s everything. It’s what nurtures crops and sustains our herds. Without soil, there’d be nothing to farm, and little on the nation’s plates to eat. But what’s less widely known is that healthy soil also plays a huge role in storing carbon.

Research has shown that healthy soil can absorb almost twice as much C02 as plants and the atmosphere combined, making it a central player in the fight against climate change. In fact, scientists estimate that we could be storing another 1 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon in global soils per year. And the opportunity for improvement to soils here in Australia is significant.

Soil is, in many ways, a non-renewable resource. It can take up to a thousand years to create just one millimetre of soil. Which makes it all the more important to start protecting its impact today – which many Australian land managers are doing via the carbon market.

Take James Henderson as an example, a beef cattle farmer in Central Queensland. After the devastating 2006 drought, James knew he needed to find new ways to manage his land. He investigated carbon farming, and in partnership with GreenCollar, embarked on a regenerative land management program that paid him to do two main things: stop clearing native trees, and implement rotational grazing.

Less than five years later, James’ soil is now much healthier. It retains more water, and is more resilient during the dry summer months. The extra vegetation has created more shade too, stabilising temperatures and keeping his grasses greener for longer. As a result, James has been able to extend his growing season by about a month either side of summer. And under Australia’s Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF), he has already generated over 54,000 ACCUs – not bad for a single property.

Across the rest of the country, Australian land managers are no stranger to erosion, acidification, compaction, salination and drought. By switching to more sustainable farming methods – like the ones used in carbon farming – it’s possible to improve soil health while bringing back the biodiversity and carbon-storage capacity the planet needs. And the practice can unlock productivity benefits for your farm too. For example, increasing soil carbon has shown to reduce the need for fertilisers by up to 7%

And you don’t have to be a soil scientist to make a difference. Simple methodologies can have a massive impact – including practices like preserving native vegetation, adopting rotational grazing and regenerating natural filtration systems. With the help of a carbon farming specialist like GreenCollar, you can implement the kinds of activities applicable to your specific land and operations with minimal fuss – and maximum benefit.

Of course, saving the planet remains the bigger picture. But as James’ example demonstrates, carbon farming isn’t just good for the environment – it’s good for economics, too. By focusing on your soil’s health, you can invest in the planet and your farm, boosting your productivity while enhancing your soils’ water- and carbon-holding capacities.

Find out more about carbon farming .

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