The Grantham Environmental Trust has invested in AgriProve an Australian agricultural startup to commercialise soil carbon solutions that improve agricultural productivity while sequestering carbon and mitigating climate change. The deal between the Grantham Trust's Neglected Climate Opportunities program and the innovative Australian company will be worth AU$2.5 million when fully exercised as part of an initial seeding round of investment.
The announcement will be made by Matthew Warnken Managing Director of AgriProve, at the 6th Australasian Emissions Reduction Summit 2019 in Melbourne 8&9 May. "The investment from the Grantham Trust is a recognition of the global potential of soil carbon as a means of reversing global warming, and a vote of confidence in the potential for AgriProve to provide a commercial model for building soil carbon at scale", Mr Warnken said.
The US based Grantham Environmental Trust, founded by Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham, is a major funder of initiatives to reverse climate change. "Soil carbon is the largest terrestrial sink of greenhouse gas emissions with enormous potential for mitigating climate change", said Eric Smith, Investment Officer for the Grantham Environmental Trust. "We are investing to see how quickly AgriProve can scale the soil carbon solution in Australia as success here will help advance adoption throughout the rest of the world."
AgriProve is a special purpose vehicle set up to mainstream soil carbon farming and is a spinoff of leading Australian carbon abatement contractor Corporate Carbon.
In mid-March Australia's first soil carbon credits were issued under the federal government's AU$2.55 billion Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) for AgriProve's flagship project in eastern Victoria. They were also the first soil carbon credits globally to be eligible under a national target in accordance with The Paris Agreement.
Funds from the investment will be used to support the deployment of farmer led initiatives to fast track soil carbon project registrations, roll out the AgriProve Soilkee System and mainstream soil carbon as a pathway to agricultural productivity and improved water management.
Australia has unique conditions in which to hothouse the commercialisation of soil carbon developments and large scale carbon abatement. It is the only nation to have a measurement based methodology that covers all forms of agriculture under a government based regulatory framework. This is coupled with a government backed market for the resulting carbon credits via the ERF.
Australia accounts for half of all measurement based soil carbon projects globally and this leadership position is due in large part to bipartisan support for carbon farming domestically. The Neglected Climate Opportunities investment in AgriProve will help build Australia as a test case for the development of soil carbon farming at scale which can then be adopted internationally.
Matthew Warnken will speak during Plenary Seven Taking Climate Action Thursday 11.35 am at the 6th Australasian Emissions Reduction Summit 2019, Future Proofing the Australian Economy, 8&9 May, MCG Melbourne Australia. Media interviews are available earlier.
The Upper Metre of the World's Soils contains three times more carbon than the world's vegetation and almost twice the levels in the atmosphere. Even proportionally small changes in the amount of soil carbon could have large effects on the carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in the atmosphere thus slowing or reversing the rate of global warming.
Increasing Global Soil Carbon Stocks as an approach to mitigate climate change is gaining worldwide attention, as demonstrated by the 4 per 1000 initiative launched at the COP21 in Paris in 2015. If soil carbon levels were increased by 0.4% per year, in the top 30-40 cm of soils, the annual increase in CO2 in the atmosphere would be stopped.
Soil Organic Carbon is directly related to agricultural productivity – the higher the soil carbon levels, the greater the productivity. This is a function of soil carbon improving water holding capacity and nutrient availability for soils, in addition to improving conditions for soil biological activity. When water and rainfall are used more effectively growing seasons extend and farms become more drought tolerant.
The Soilkee Pasture Renovator provides an elegant solution to pasture cropping that combines cultivation, mulching, aeration and mixed species seeding to grow better quality feed while building soil carbon. This 'salad mix' approach provides balanced nutrition, feed diversity, organic matter and nitrogen from legume nodulation. Seeding annual crops into perennial pasture improves soil health by promoting beneficial bacteria, fungi and worms.
Additional Farmer Benefits: Sowing annuals into perennial pastures covers the summer and winter feed gap – giving the herd feed when pastures aren't growing. The annual crops generate about a 30 per cent increase in dry matter yields. Using the Soilkee System results in reduced inputs of greenhouse gas emitting nitrogenous fertiliser (nitrous oxide has a very high global warming potential).
Corporate Carbon Advisory, led by Managing Director Matthew Warnken, is Australia's largest multi-sector carbon contractor with over 40 million tonnes of abatement contracted under the AU$2.55 billion Emissions Reduction Fund. In 2018 having seen the transformative potential of soil carbon and the Soilkee technology, Corporate Carbon established AgriProve – an agricultural startup – as a vehicle to mainstream soil carbon farming.
Soilkee: Niels Olsen initially developed the Soilkee Renovator as a means to regenerate degraded land on his own farm in Gippsland, Victoria. He now markets the technology to farmers and contractors helping them to maximise their soil carbon and agricultural productivity.
Broader regenerative remit: Soil organic carbon is in effect a scorecard for regenerative farming practices. The broader remit beyond carbon is to commercialise regenerative practices to enable producers to access a premium supply chain while the public gains access to more nutritious food and a regenerating environment.
Australian Carbon Farming Forecasts: The Carbon Farming Industry Roadmap forecasts that by 2030 the industry could deliver up to 21,000 jobs and $24 billion to regional and national economies.
Today marks an important milestone in the transition of agriculture from a source of greenhouse gas emissions to significant carbon sink. Corporate Carbon is proud to receive the first carbon credits issued for a soil carbon project under the Emissions Reduction Fund.
'Not only will these soil carbon credits be the first to count towards Australia's national targets under The Paris Agreement but they are the first soil credits worldwide to be eligible under Paris', said Corporate Carbon Managing Director, Matthew Warnken.
The credits were received by the Grounds Keeping Carbon Project, which showcases the work of a Victorian innovation and farming system that creates soil carbon in pastures at rates comparable with forests. The Soilkee Pasture Renovator combines cultivation, mulching, aeration and mixed species seeding to improve grazing systems and build soil carbon effectively. The higher the soil carbon levels the more productive and healthy the farm.
'We are very proud to have achieved this formal recognition for Soilkee', said founder, inventor and Gippsland farmer, Niels Olsen. 'The opportunity for expanding regenerative farming and building soil carbon at scale is phenomenal and we are now ramping up our production to deliver on this potential.'
The soil carbon credits were presented to Corporate Carbon and Niels and Marja Olsen, on their Hallora farm, at an issuance ceremony by the Chair of the Clean Energy Regulator David Parker. 'He said, 'Soil carbon capture and sequestration is an innovative emissions reduction measure. There is a triple win in aiding international efforts to address climate resilience, improving soil health and food productivity, and the bottom line for farmers. This project is an example of the co-benefits that can be achieved under the Emissions Reduction Fund, and a beacon of innovation in the Agricultural sector,' Mr Parker said.
Australia is in a world leading position on soil carbon due to the bipartisan support of successive Australian governments and the work of the Clean Energy Regulator and the Department of the Environment and Energy. 'This first issuance of credits is as much a recognition of the cumulative effort from early soil carbon farming pioneers and practitioners, as it is a vote of confidence in the ability of soil carbon to deliver millions of tonnes of abatement in the future', said Mr Warnken.
Corporate Carbon also announced the formal launch of AgriProve, a one-stop solution shop for soil carbon projects. 'AgriProve now becomes the special purpose vehicle for developing soil carbon projects,' said AgriProve Executive Director Gary Wyatt.
AgriProve has an ambitious agenda as the Soilkee commercial model is poised to be mainstreamed. 'Our immediate goal is to involve 100 farms, on 100 hectares, increasing soil carbon by one per cent over 100 months. The longer-term plan is to grow soil carbon farming exponentially', Mr Wyatt said.
Farmers, landholders, project owners and developers that are interested in implementing soil carbon projects should contact AgriProve.
AgriProve is a special purpose vehicle established by Corporate Carbon, Australia's largest multi-sector carbon contractor under the Emissions Reduction Fund. We have a range of solutions to facilitate participation in the ERF and are working with many of Australia's leading emissions reduction project developers and owners.
Soil organic carbon is directly related to agricultural productivity - the higher the soil carbon levels, the greater the productivity. This is a function of soil carbon improving water holding capacity and nutrient availability for soils, in addition to improving conditions for soil biological activity. There are a number of active management practices that can build soil organic carbon levels and farmers can get paid for the soil carbon levels they build.
The Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) is the Australian Government's mechanism for purchasing carbon abatement, in the form Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) from carbon projects. Soil carbon projects can register under the Measurement of Soil Carbon Sequestration in Agricultural Systems. This is a measurement-based methodology where any agricultural operation can implement new activities to build soil carbon and receive carbon credits for the measured increases in soil carbon.
There are essentially five steps to running a soil carbon project:
We fast track project registration by initially registering projects in our name and transferring the registration at a later date, reducing upfront paper work and providing flexibility for farmers. To get started our Expression of Interest and Consent form needs signing by all landholders on project property titles. This form also acts as a management record of past activity.
The EoI and Consent gives us 18 months exclusivity and the legal right to register and operate the project for ERF purposes. However, it is conditional reaching of commercial terms to purchase carbon credits.
The main commitment is maintaining the land in an agricultural system for 25 years after first credit issuance. There is a 20 per cent discount of carbon credits issued, however this is seen as a preferable to a hundred year obligation.
Soilkee provides a combined cultivation, aeration and multi-species seeding solution to improving grazing systems. It works through activating a number of virtuous cycles:
The advantage of Soilkee is that it provides a programmable 'treatment' program for farmers to follow with measurable results. Furthermore, growing additional feed has benefits for any farming systems operating under a certification program such as organic or biodynamic in that it removes the risk of requiring additional off-farm inputs that also need to be certified.
Soilkee agronomic features are well documented in the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority soil pasture demonstration involving Soilkee, pasture aeration and a control site. (see www.wgcma.vic.gov.au/for-landholders/gippsland-soil-trials. The results show exceptional performance in dry matter yield increases and percentage coverage of perennial rye and clover.
These factors are the basis for Soilkee's improved agricultural productivity.
AgriProve is an authorised reseller of the Soilkee Pasture Renovator. Soilkee machines ordered through AgriProve will receive a $5,000 credit towards the costs of soil sampling under a registered ERF project
DISCLAIMER: Information contained on this site is for general information purposes only. AgriProve is happy to provide further information but does not accept any liability for relying or not acting on this generic advice.
© AgriProve Pty Ltd 2019