Farmers in Holbrook area have the opportunity to regenerate their soils with a new system for building soil carbon. Stephen Whitsed, Director of Global Soil Regeneration (GSR), will demonstrate the Soilkee Renovator at field day run by the Holbrook Landcare Network from 11.00 – 1.00pm on Monday 17 June, “Eurimbla” Olympic Hwy, Gerogery.
Global Soil Regeneration (GSR) is a contractor using the Soilkee system in the greater Albury-Wodonga region that helps farmers improve the health and quality of their soils. The Corryong based father and son initiative was formed to improve local agricultural productivity and to take action on climate change.
Director of GSR Stephen Whitsed said, “We are dairy farmers who are passionate about the potential to build soil carbon and regenerate soils on our own farm and the farms around us. The Soilkee Renovator will lift carbon levels in the soil faster than anything else and it comes with many additional benefits. Building soil carbon increases topsoil, improves water holding capacity, increases worms and soil biology and it’s better for the environment. The system also uses less fertiliser which saves money on inputs.”
GSR started operations with the Soilkee Rennovator in November 2018 – they sowed ten Soilkee crops, in addition to their own, in the spring and all ten farmers planted again in the autumn. Five new farmers signed up to soil carbon projects in autumn bringing the total to 15 farms with Soilkee crops on an area of approximately 2,000 hectares. GSR aims to make the Upper Murray carbon positive.
AgriProve is Australia’s first one stop shop for soil carbon: from credit creation to sales. It enables farmers to generate income from carbon abatement activities and secure viable returns in the Australian market.
Managing Director Matthew Warnken said “Our goal is to mainstream a farmer led, commercial model of soil carbon farming – regenerating agriculture and sequestering carbon at scale. To assist us reach this goal we have secured $150 million to pay farmers who build soil carbon and generate credits.”
AgriProve is supporting GSR to give farmers who sign up to soil carbon projects a discount on retail hourly contracting rates. Scaling rapidly will help generate efficiencies and reduce costs for activities like soil sampling.
“The Soilkee has the potential to transform farming regions from sources of greenhouse gas emissions to carbon sinks” Mr Warnken said. “This aligns with industry goals such as Meat and Livestock Australia’s plan to become carbon neutral by 2030.”
AgriProve is a specialist soil carbon company. In mid-March Australia’s first soil carbon credits were issued under the federal government’s Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) for AgriProve’s flagship project using the Soilkee system in eastern Victoria.
They were also the first soil carbon credits globally to be eligible under a national greenhouse target in accordance with the Paris Agreement. The AgriProve team is involved with over 90 per cent of all soil carbon projects in Australia.
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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 registered Australia’s first soil carbon project under the Emissions Reduction Fund in 2015. 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.