NSW DPI receives $246,000 climate action grant

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has received a $246,000 climate action project grant from the NSW Government to study the role of pastures in locking up carbon under a range of management practices in central and southern NSW.

NSW Minister for Primary Industries Ian Macdonald said the project is part of a wider $2.5 million climate research program, which will help the NSW Government achieve its aim of cutting greenhouse emissions by 60 per cent by 2050.

A member of the project team, NSW DPI Soil Physics Technical Officer, Albert Oates, said with the wider community becoming increasingly aware of greenhouse gases and potential climate change, it was important the positive role of pastures in sequestering carbon within the soil be better understood and measured.

“Keeping carbon in the soil as organic material reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. And increasing soil organic material improves the physical, chemical and biological properties of the soil,” he said.

Mr Oates said Australian farmed soils were generally relatively low in soil organic carbon.

“It’s not easy to accumulate organic material in a hot, dry climate under continuous cropping.

“The pasture phase provides the opportunity to rebuild organic matter levels in the soil. Soils under permanent pasture may have the greatest potential to lock-up carbon dioxide as soil organic matter.”

The three-year project will be led by Soil Physicist Dr Yin Chan with input from Soil Chemist Dr Mark Conyers, Modeller Dr Deli Liu, Research Agronomist Dr Guangdi Li, Soil Scientist Dr Brian Murphy of DNR and Mr Oates.

A number of district agronomists from NSW DPI will collaborate in the project, plus an additional technical officer, Ms Ros Prangnell, has been recently recruited to work on the project.

At this stage the researchers are keen to hear from farmers who may have paddocks with a known history suitable for inclusion in the study.

“Of particular interest would be paired paddocks, which allow comparisons to be made,” Mr Oates said.

“Examples include cropped versus old perennial pasture, annual pasture versus perennial and set-stocked versus rotationally grazed.

“If a farmer has a paddock likely to be of very high organic carbon status that would also be of interest.”