Looking At Landcare (9/5/2019) – Climate challenges and Carbon Solutions

Fresh from the Managing Soils for Climate and Market Change workshops in Parkes and Forbes, I can’t help but once again be overwhelmed by the climate issues that are facing us.

The options available to address some of these problems are also exciting and have the dual impact of addressing the need for increased soil carbon, but the reduction of CO2 in the air.

It is sometimes difficult to think about the bigger picture of ‘climate change’ when we are just busy getting through our day to day tasks to keep afloat. Obviously, with the drought as an added concern and the uncertainty ahead there are two lines of thinking, sometimes they cross and sometimes people either just focus on one or the other. Sometimes the issue of addressing climate change is just left to someone else…not my problem!

It became obvious during our workshops with the incentive of the Central West Local Land Services project named ADAPT, that the discussion around whether climate change is real or not is now not really a discussion point. We are now seriously being encouraged to be looking at adaptive measures to equip for change.

Guy Webb gave an overview of the issue of climate change and posed the question to attendees, ‘Where do we draw the line?’ Is a change of 1.5 degrees or 2 degrees going to be acceptable?

I wondered at what point do our current management systems and dates etc become irrelevant because our climate has changed so significantly that we have no option but to adopt new practices?

I have read other articles that talk about the fabulous way that farmers adapt to new farming practices to meet the changing conditions. Often when we are adapting to something on a small scale every day, in increments, it is difficult to see the bigger picture and view the size of the adaptation over a longer period, until we have a series of significant events that actually impact our productivity and economy.

We seem to value things more when it has a dollar value and start looking at the bigger picture and how those increments now seem significant in their size as a whole.

The workshops gave some options to help not only increase productivity and profitability, but also solve some of the larger issues impacting our climate, by empowering farmers with options to draw down carbon. We were inspired to see ways that locals have been rotating with cover crops and the options that are practically available in our area.

I went to a workshop a couple of years ago with an extremely inspiring American cover cropper, and can, of course see the benefits of doing what he was doing, but in practicality, achieving the mix and ratios with a vast species variety could be a massive undertaking, both from a practical and financial sense. I think that patience also plays a large part in this process.

Guy clarified why these cover crops are reducing the need for nitrogen and how the varieties of species are key to achieving the differing soil penetration requirements.

Senior Land Services Officer with Central West Local Land Services, Callen Thompson, is heading up the ADAPT project under the National Landcare Program 2, with a focus on assisting landholders to adapt their enterprise to meet the changing climatic conditions.

If you would like to learn more about the ADAPT project, contact Callen at callen.thompson@lls.nsw.gov.au or more about Soil C Quest, go to their website here.

More info will be available next week or via our website at centralwestlachlanlandcare.org, facebook, twitter or Instagram @cwllandcare.

Until next week, happy Landcaring!