FARMERS have a great opportunity to help offset carbon emissions, particularly from other industries that are limited in their ability to cut them down, according to Port Lincoln-based consultant Mark Stanley.
Mr Stanley’s business Regional Connections was awarded the Premier's Climate Change Council SA Climate Leader Award at the end of last year by state Environment Minister Ian Hunter.
The award was won on the back of a project that Mr Stanley managed – the Carbon Farming Future Outreach & Extension program.
As part of the federal government-funded project, 30 independent farm advisers from across SA, Vic and Tas were upskilled on all aspects of carbon farming, from soil carbon, nitrous oxide emissions, nitrogen use efficiency, methane emissions, climate and carbon markets.
The advisers then worked through potential opportunities for their farmer clients to adopt some of the findings.
It was all part of the then-Labor federal government’s Carbon Farming Initiative.
“The project started four years ago and was all about extending the findings of research on greenhouse gas reduction and carbon sequestration,” Mr Stanley said,
“I engaged with 30 private farm consultants in SA, Vic and Tas to increase their knowledge in this area.
“Through attending workshops, the consultants could then take back key messages and findings to their farmer clients. We would meet up again six months later to talk about what did, and didn’t, work on-farm.”
Mr Stanley said the process worked beyond expectations.
“When I went into this process, a fair percentage of consultants were sceptical about the concept of carbon farming, but by the end of the project, they were excited and talking about the opportunities,” he said.
“With each farm consultant having about 30 farmer clients, there was the the potential for the research findings to reach up to 900 farmers.”
Mr Stanley said it was relatively easy for farmers to reduce carbon emissions.
“A lot of it centres on good farming practices,” he said.
“In a cropping enterprise, moving to a no-till system and retaining stubble helps reduce carbon in the soil.
“Managing sheep more effectively, by targeting greater liveweight gains, so they’re not out in the paddock as long, and not producing methane for as long, also helps.
“From an international perspective, the farming sector is one industry with plenty of ways to reduce emissions.
“In other sectors, like transport and power production, it’s difficult.”