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Review finds carbon calculators come up short

Grain Central, October 1, 2020

GRAINGROWERS has launched ‘Carbon calculators compared for Australian grain growers’, a research report that was to be a guide for growers looking for a product that would assist with measuring greenhouse gas, or carbon dioxide equivalent emissions on-farm.

However, the report indicates that these calculators need further work before farmers can be confident in assessing their net emissions.

Five carbon calculators including government-funded and commercial products that could be applied to cereal, pulses and oilseeds were reviewed in the study, using data from two farms in Western and Eastern Australia.

The report found there was significant variability in the results produced by each calculator depending on farm location, crop type and farming practice.

More work is needed by calculator developers to remove ambiguities, for example, around soil organic carbon.

Of the models reviewed, only one took soil carbon changes into account. This meant the report could only show total emissions (in t/CO2-e/year) and net emissions as stored carbon could not be calculated.

Ensuring growers are also made aware of the strengths and limitations of each calculator was also highlighted as an imperative.

“Growers need practical tools that will work on-farm,” GrainGrowers chairman, Brett Hosking, said.

“Many growers want to understand their farm emissions and the carbon they store which is why carbon accounting and measurement tools need to be consistent, accurate and fit for purpose.  The tools need to show the carbon impact of any changes a grower considers making to their farming practices.

“Growers need to see both sides of the ledger. It is important to know where emissions are coming from, and equally important to know what is being stored.”

With the Technology Investment Roadmap announced recently by the Energy and Emissions Minister Angus Taylor, GrainGrowers welcomes a joined-up approach to the development of carbon calculators.

“It is good to see government focusing on carbon measurements and what supports are needed for this. What our report makes clear is that for busy growers, the tools for measuring emissions need to be straight forward and easy for them to apply,” Mr Hosking said.

Source: GrainGrowers

 

 

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