Research institutions such as Australia’s CSIRO, the University of Sydney and the Australian Farm Institute are working to support emissions reduction in agriculture through various means, including generating reliable estimates of carbon sinks on agricultural and forestry lands nationwide, and developing new technologies and practices to help farmers reduce emissions and generate permanent for measurable greenhouse gas offsets.
Key areas of research targeting emission reductions and offsets in land use systems include:
- reducing methane emissions from ruminant livestock systems while maintaining the viability of enterprises incorporating livestock production,
- ensuring carbon balance in native ecosystems, and protecting and improving carbon stocks in forests and savannah lands while maximising co-benefits to the environment and society,
- contributing to GHG mitigation by establishing new woody vegetation (forests) on agricultural land as carbon sinks and feed stocks for bioenergy production; substituting forest products for more greenhouse-intensive products; and providing feed stocks for bioenergy that can be used instead of fossil fuels.
Widescale data about soil carbon and nitrogen balance in Australian agricultural lands, currently being collected, will help farmers devise management strategies to maximise the productive capacity of their soils while minimising GHG emissions and resource degradation.
Researchers are also looking at the potential of various biochars to sequester carbon, reduce nitrous oxide emissions and alter soil function to improve plant productivity, and at land management practices that reduce carbon pollution.
The Australian Farm Institute has produced a valuable set of tools to support participation in carbon farming activitities.
NSW Farmers is leading an Action on the Ground research project with University of Sydney , CSIRO and ten grain farmers, looking at the commercial feasibility of soil carbon sequestration and nitrous oxide abatement measures in broad acre cropping operations.