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Canadian farmers paid for not tilling soil; not yet possible in Australia since no mechanism for non-permanent carbon trading

Posted by gmarkets on 11 October, 2007

Canadian farmers were starting to be rewarded for providing environmental services to the world. The Chicago Climate Exchange was paying no-till farmers for the carbon they stored in the soil as a result of the cropping management they employed, reported Farm Weekly (20/9/2007, p.29).

Farmers able to invest in no-till machinery: What was impressive about the carbon credit program was that farmers were investing in new no-till machinery, confident in the knowledge that they could pay for the equipment from carbon dollars. In the September issue of Australian Farm Journal, Canadian farmer Les McGrath said he purchased a new no-till air seeder for $160,000 based on his involvement in the carbon credit program. McGrath did not have to demonstrate an actual soil carbon increase. What was important for the program’s carbon credibility was that farmers guaranteed they would not disturb the soil for four-year periods.

No mechanism for non-permanent carbon trading yet in Australia: The Australian Farm Institute’s Mick Keogh said Australian farmers might one day be able to participate in carbon trading along the lines of their Canadian counterparts. But an impediment in Australia was the lack of a mechanism for non-permanent carbon trading. “The imminent development of a national greenhouse emission trading scheme in Australia might change this,” Keogh told the Australian Farm Journal. “Currently, the rules of the only official greenhouse emissions trading scheme in operation in Australia, the New South Wales Greenhouse Gas Reduction Scheme (NSW GGAS), require that offsets need to be permanent in order to be recognised under the scheme,” Keogh said, “…with the definition of ‘permanent’ being that it is intended to be maintained for 100 years. Tree plantings can be recognised, but require a permanent legal caveat being placed on the title to the land involved, preventing it being used for anything else in the future.” He said it also required that the land in question be surveyed, and regular auditing take place.

Looking ahead: However, Keogh said non-permanent sequestration may happen in Australia as it has in North America and he suggested it was a good reason for farmers to adopt an environmental management system for their properties.

Farm Weekly, 20/9/2007, p. 29

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