THERE is money to be made from thin air if farmers in the northern Victorian Mallee are ready to become players in the growing international market for carbon credits, carbon-farming consultant Ben Keogh believes.
Mr Keogh, managing director of Castlemaine-based carbon-farming consultancy Australian Carbon Traders, said his company already had “more demand than we can handle” from big polluters seeking to invest in on-farm schemes to capture carbon and reduce greenhouse emissions.
Mr Keogh said Australia was moving towards an emissions trading scheme (ETS), which would require local polluters to spend 50 per cent of their investment in carbon credits within Australia – no more than 50 per cent can be invested overseas.
“The details of the ETS are still not clear, but we always knew that Australia would join the world in floating the price of carbon credits,” he said.
But he warned that if Australian farmers were not ready and well organised to secure funding for on-farm schemes to cut emissions, they will miss out, and the investment would go to farmers in China, India or Brazil.
“Two strategies we have identified for reducing on-farm emissions in the Victorian Mallee are the use of coated fertilises, to reduce nitrous oxide emissions, and planting mallees to sequester carbon in the soil.
“Mallees will grow in marginal soils, so they don’t compete for good cropping country, and they deliver environmental benefits.
“They can be planted to intercept drainage, which reduces salinity, and mallee shelter belts will reduce windspeeds and evaporation rates over paddocks, provide shelter for livestock, as well as reducing windspeed and soil erosion.
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