Policy makers discuss soil organic carbon on Earth Day

| Posted May 04,2021

Penny Wensley and Dr Michael Crawford

The subject of soil carbon has been attracting increased attention, across diverse sectors and among a range of stakeholders—in government, business, industry, the agricultural and energy sectors—with its role in climate change mitigation, adaptation and drought resilience of particular interest.

On Earth Day (22 April 2021), the National Soils Advocate (and Soil CRC Patron), The Hon. Penny Wensley AC, hosted a Forum in Canberra: Soil Organic Carbon – Realities and science for policy advisers and decision-makers.

“As the government finalises a new National Soil Strategy, and is also directing greater attention to the issue of soil carbon sequestration and to soil carbon policy, it is important that there be a good understanding of the science involved,” said Penny Wensley, addressing attendees at the National Press Club in Canberra.

“At this time, it is certainly a priority that our policy advisers and decision-makers understand what the science is telling us about soil organic carbon. This scientific understanding will also tell us what is achievable when it comes to sequestering soil carbon,” she said.

The program was tailored to non-scientists working on climate change and soil-related policy, helping attendees gain a better understanding of the challenges and complexities associated with changing and quantifying change in soil organic carbon.

Attendees heard evidence-based information from some of Australia’s leading soil scientists. Soil CRC CEO, Dr Michael Crawford was among the speakers, presenting on the complexities and considerations of adoption.

“Adopting practices that aim to increase soil carbon leads to soil health benefits, productivity gains and greater resilience. There are also situations where farmers want to increase soil carbon, quantify this change and gain income from the sale of credits,” said Dr Crawford.

“Further research is needed to provide farmers with the pathways to do this with confidence.”

The Soil CRC has a number of projects underway to help identify how to increase soil carbon and keep it there, but is looking to expand this portfolio of research to ensure that all farmers have viable, profitable pathways for sequestering soil carbon and building soil health.