Author Archives: Sam Houston
Author Archives: Sam Houston
Celebrating the extraordinary efforts of Aussie farmers
This week, the NFF launched a nationwide campaign promoting the extraordinary efforts of Australian farmers in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign - which includes billboards and online advertising - highlights the stories of six different farmers. To view the stories, click here.
Soils at the centre of emissions roadmap
This week Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor announced the Low Emissions Technology Statement (LETS). The statement outlines 5 priority technologies to drive down Australia's emissions - one of which is soil carbon. The NFF welcomed the focus on better measurement technology, describing efficient measurement as the 'holy grail'.
NBN announces $300 million investment in regional Australia
nbn co this week announced the next phase of its network investment to meet the future demands of its users. The plan includes $300 million to work with state and territory governments and local councils to deliver access to higher speed broadband to households and businesses in the bush.
Farm exports delayed at waterfront
Work stoppages by the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) continue to cause delays at Sydney’s Port Botany, with farmers growing increasingly frustrated by the prolonging of ‘go-slows’ and delays by port workers. Farmers are calling on the MUA to resolve the stalemate before it further damages Australia's economic recovery.
LETS provides unique opportunity for agriculture
This week, the Government launched its first Low Emissions Technology Statement (LETS), it follows extensive consultation as part of the Technology Investment Roadmap. The purpose of the LETS is to prioritise technologies for Governments to investment in. Five technologies have been selected under the LETS, one of which is soil carbon. Specifically, the Government is trying to reduce the cost of soil carbon measurement, setting ‘stretch goal’ for soil carbon measurement to be $3/hectare/year. It is an ambitious target which is around a 90% reduction against current options.
So, what is the opportunity?
(1) If you can measure it, you can better manage it; and (2) the cost of measuring soil carbon is a significant barrier to participation in the Emissions Reduction Fund and this will better enable farmers to participate and generate carbon credits from which they can derive additional income. The key caveat though is that while soil carbon is considered the holy grail of emission reduction for agriculture, that view requires a significantly better and demonstrable understanding of what circumstances soils carbon expands, and equally under which it declines.
At the moment farmers almost need to access a grant just to undertake the measurement due to the labour and time intensive core sampling process required under the Emissions Reduction Fund methodology, such is the cost.
The Government identifies the untapped potential for Australian soils to sequester carbon as an opportunity. Improving land management practices on a quarter of Australia’s crop and grazing lands, they estimate between 35 and 90 million tonnes of CO2. Care needs to be taken to understand what those changed management practices might be and what the impact of implementing them might be. To add perspective, Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions in around 610 million tonnes in 2005 and 528 million tonnes in 2020.
What the Government has indicated they would do is commence a ‘soil carbon innovation challenge’ to rapidly reduce the cost of measuring the impact of new farming practices on soil carbon sequestration; and they will also finalise new or revised ERF methods to support soil carbon within 12 months. Such technology leap is well overdue.
The NFF believes this is a step in the right direction and aligns well with industry goals to reduce emissions while improving productivity and farm resilience.
Another exciting and untapped area in the LETS is the focus on clean hydrogen, and electric and hydrogen vehicle refuelling infrastructure. The NFF has two significant goals identified in the 2030 roadmap: (1) for 50 per cent on farm energy use to come from renewable sources by 2030; and (2) for significantly greater investment in regional Australia post COVID-19 through regional deals. The LETS certainly speaks to this.
The NFF anticipates further process to commence to operationalise these commitments, and also expect legislation to be made available in the future to give effect to the Government’s announcements.
Quote of the week
"Everyone pulled together to help farmers through floods, fires, drought and the virus... and now these bastards are just screwing the guts out the the country."
- EXPORTER ROGER FLETCHER