Daily Archives: 19/06/2015

Landcare helps farmers reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Selling carbon credits to help the Federal Government meet its emissions reduction target might not appeal to every farmer.

However, there are plenty who are interested in reducing their own carbon footprint.

A landcare group in south-west New South Wales has stepped in to help.

In 2012, Holbrook Landcare Network received federal funding to deliver the extension and outreach program, through what was the Carbon Farming Initiative.

It spent some of the money profiling the greenhouse gas emissions of eight livestock farms, including Holbrook, Bowna, Tooma, Tumbarumba, Jindera and Morven.

Landholders provided property and production information including rainfall, tree plantings, stock numbers, fuel usage, grazing regime, fertiliser use and types of crops sown.

The Greenhouse Accounting Framework (GAF) calculator, developed by the University of Melbourne, was used to estimate the source and scale of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on the farms.

Farm case studies were modelled to provide farmers with practical ways to reduce or offset the property’s GHG emissions.

Dale Stringer, executive officer of the Holbrook Landcare Network said a number of emission reduction options have been offered.

“The obvious one is planting trees to sequester carbon,” he said.

“Also things like improving their pastures and pasture management to sequester carbon in the soils.

“They can reduce emissions through more efficient fertiliser use and through supplements that help reduce the methane produced by livestock.”

Tooma farmer Rob Cox runs 700 European cross cattle on a 910 hectare property in the NSW Upper Murray.

He is a big advocate of tree planting and has revegetated 57 hectares or six per cent of the property.

“We have livestock which do emit,” he said

“We do use electricity and diesel and they were all added together and then the area of the trees planted is calculated and then are offset.

“We were lucky enough, because we’re not cropping, and I think those people are hard-pressed to offset emissions. We equated out almost neutral in the end.”

Mr Cox’s property requires a further three hectares of tree plantings to completely offset the farm’s total GHG emissions.

Gordon Shaw’s family have taken a keen interest in improving their environmental credentials on farm since the 1990s

Wantagong, their sheep and cattle property east of Holbrook, is made up of undulating hills and creek flats.

It has provided plenty of scope for revegetation and tree plantings.

This has helped offset the enteric methane emitted from the farms 500 hereford cattle, which is more than 80 per cent of the property’s total GHG emissions.

“We’re looking at further plantations,” Mr Shaw said.

“We’ve always had a steady program of planting out areas.

“Currently we’ve got one per cent of the property under plantations, plus we’ve got a large area of remnant vegetation, about 250 hectares, which is also put aside for vegetation protection.

“We see that as the most effective way of offsetting our emissions.”

The modelled emission reduction options for Wantagong include increasing tree plantings from 15 to 35 hectares to offset total GHG emissions by 48 per cent.

The case study shows that switching the lambing period from autumn to spring can reduce total GHG emissions by approximately 398 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

The Holbrook Landcare Network is looking for more volunteers to conduct new case studies.

It will be targeting grain enterprises and mixed farming operations.