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Miscellaneous

Carbon Farming Information

  • There’s currently a wealth of information available on carbon farming, so much so, that it can be overwhelming knowing where to start. The information provided in this fact sheet will give you good starting point to find more on the web.

    The Department of Agriculture and Food WA with funding assistance from the State Government's Royalties for Regions program, has analysed and captured current and emerging information on carbon farming related policy, legislation and science to identify opportunities and associated risks.

  • (Download this Fact Sheet)

Dryland Salinity Soil Health Info Sheet

  • Dryland salinity refers to all soils in non-irrigated areas that have become saline since being cleared for agriculture.

    In WA, dryland salinity is the result of an altered water balance caused by the clearing of land for agriculture and the removal of deep rooted native perennial vegetation with shallower rooted annual crops and pastures.

    It is estimated that more than 2 million ha of broadacre farmland in Australia is currently affected by dryland salinity (ABS, 2002), with more than half of this area located in WA. Dryland salinity affects the land resource and also impacts on water resources and natural biodiversity and can cause damage to roads, buildings and other infrastructure.

  • (Download this Fact Sheet)

How to Become an Emissions Reduction Fund Participant

  • The Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF), is an Australian Government program which allows access to Australian Carbon Credit Units by people conducting approved projects which sequester carbon, or reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    The West Australian Government's Royalties for Regions program has partnered with the Department of Agriculture and Food WA, to produce a series of fact sheets for the state's land managers.
    The sheets analyse and capture current and emerging information on carbon farming related policy, legislation and science, to identify carbon farming opportunities and associated risks.

  • (Download this Fact Sheet)

How to use dung beetles to sequester carbon in your soil

  • Australia has several hundred dung beetle species which have adapted to processing the small, dry dung of our native marsupials.
    Native dung beetles are active in winter, which unfortunately, doesn’t coincide with summer breeding local flies.

    When sheep, horses and cattle were introduced to Australia, native dung beetles were not well adapted to deal with these animals’ large, wet dung pats which sometimes persisted in place for more than a year and led to new or exacerbated environmental issues.

    Fly populations increased because their larvae developed in the dung which led to an over-abundance in the use of pesticides to control flies.
    Other environmental issues included increased disruption of the nutrient cycle and an increase in the number of dung borne pathogens. More importantly, in the context of carbon emissions, an increase in greenhouse gases (CO2 and N2O) occurred, lost from the dung as a gas into the atmosphere.

    Since the 1970s CSIRO has tackled these problems by importing 23 exotic species of dung beetle adapted to process cattle and sheep dung. Twelve species have been introduced to WA with 10 types doing well along the South Coast and in the south-west.

    Species found across much of the south-west include Onthophagus taurus, Onitis aygulus, Euoniticellus pallipes and Bubas bison as well as Onthophagus binodis and Euoniticellus fulvus along the lower coastal district (DAFWA).

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Perennials & Carbon - How to create a living carbon sink on your farm

  • With an increasingly unpredictable and variable climate, we need to consider simple management options to mitigate its impact on production.

    Perennials in your system can buffer your farm from the effects of climate change and can provide flexibility in your management options and potentially maximise profits.

    Carbon farming is the process of managing soil, vegetation, water and animals to increase carbon storage and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

    GHGs are released through normal farming practices such as farm machinery use, the production and use of fertiliser as well as being created through enteric fermentation from animals.

    There is a wealth of information on the benefits of soil carbon on soil health and production. Soil carbon increases cation exchange, improves water holding capacity, holds the majority of nutrients and trace elements (important for plant growth) and contributes to the structural integrity of clay soils by forming aggregations.

    Soil carbon also prevents nutrient leaching, buffers large changes in soil pH and makes minerals more readily available to plants.

  • (Download this Fact Sheet)

Soil Acidity Soil Health Info Sheet

  • Soil acidification is a natural process accelerated by agriculture. It is primarily caused through the leaching of nitrates from nitrogen fertiliser or organic matter and removal of cations in harvested grain, hay and stock moved off the farm.

    The effect of acidity, or low pH, on surface soils (0 - 10 cm) is different compared to the subsurface soil layers (10 - 30 cm). The main effect of low pH in the surface soil is on nitrogen fixation by legume-rhizobia symbiosis and on the availability of nutrients.

    In sub-surface layers, low pH causes an increase in the solubility of aluminium, which is toxic to plant roots, resulting in restricted root growth and poor access to moisture and nutrients.

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Soil Organic Carbon Soil Health Info Sheet

  • Soil organic carbon (SOC) is derived from organic matter which ranges from living organisms, to decaying plant material, to charcoal.

    Organic matter has beneficial physical, chemical and biological influences on soil condition and plant growth and in some soils is the major source of plant available nutrients.

    By global standards, WA soils are generally low in SOC and for the south-west of WA, SOC levels typically range from 0.7 - 4 per cent.

    Increasing SOC is widely regarded as beneficial to soil function and fertility and has been associated with increased agricultural productivity.

    With soil being considered a major world carbon sink, as well as a source of carbon emissions, increasing the amount of organic carbon in agricultural and rangeland soils is seen as one way of decreasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations and mitigating climate change.

  • (Download this Fact Sheet)

Water Repellence Soil Health Info Sheet

  • Soil water repellence (non-wetting soils) is the resistance of soils to wetting, sometimes to the extent that they remain dry even after significant rainfall events or irrigation.

    Soil water repellence is caused by the presence of organic hydrophobic coatings on soil particles.

    These coatings are commonly waxes, alkanes (paraffins) and long chain fatty acids that are left behind following the microbial breakdown of plant material. Soil organic matter may also be highly water repellent.

    The consequences of water repellence are:
    - Poor crop and pasture establishment.
    - Increased risk of wind and water erosion.
    - Poor water and nutrient use.

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Wind & Water Erosion Soil Health Info Sheet

  • Wind erosion is a natural process that has assisted historically in shaping Australian landscapes. However, soil degradation by wind erosion has been augmented by inadequate or inappropriate land management practices.

    This damage to the soil resource has both on-site (reduced fertility and build-up along fence lines) and off-site impacts (air quality).

    Water erosion is the removal of soil from the earth’s surface by water. It occurs when raindrops impact the soil surface and displace soil particles and when water flowing over land surface mobilises soil particles.

    It occurs naturally at low rates, but can become accelerated as a result of human-induced management changes to the natural landscape. In each case, the same processes operate and the distinction is only a matter of degree and rate of erosion.

  • (Download this Fact Sheet)