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Towards Cost Efficient Soil Carbon Measurement and Monitoring

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Professor Alex. McBratney of Sydnet University delivers a stunning presentation on remote sensing and its promise of satellites 'spying' on plants to help save the world from climate crisis.

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Towards Cost Efficient Soil Carbon Measurement and Monitoring

  1. 1. Towards More Efficient Soil Carbon Measurement and Monitoring Alex. M c Bratney Budiman Minasny Australian Centre for Precision Agriculture Faculty of Agriculture Food & Natural Resources
  2. 2. Rationale <ul><li>Soil stores a lot of carbon </li></ul><ul><li>The win-win of storing carbon </li></ul>
  3. 3. Soil stores a lot of carbon 1 <ul><li>Global organic C storage (0-1 m): </li></ul><ul><li>1,200 – 1,600 Petagrams </li></ul><ul><li>Soil carbonate carbon larger </li></ul>Atmosphere 770 Vegetation 600 Oceans 40 000 Global NPP 57 Petagram = 10 15 g = 10 12 kg = 10 9 tonnes
  4. 4. Soil stores a lot of carbon 2 <ul><li>Globally NPP : 57 x 10 9 t C y -1 </li></ul><ul><li>Edgeroi (150 000 ha): </li></ul><ul><li>C org Storage (to 1m) : 13 x 10 6 t C </li></ul><ul><li>IA Watson (427 ha) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>C org Storage (to 1m) : 25 x 10 3 t C </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Carbon Storage (0-1 m) (kg m -2 ) 1 = kg m -2 = 10 tonnes/ha C Storage Edgeroi 0 - 5 5 - 6 6 - 7 7 - 8 8 - 9 9 - 10 10 - 11 11 - 12 12 - 14 14 - 16 16 - 18 18 - 20 0 - 5 5 - 6 6 - 7 7 - 8 8 - 9 9 - 10 10 - 11 11 - 12 12 - 14 14 - 16 16 - 18 18 - 20
  6. 6. The win-win of storing carbon <ul><li>Results from StrucC – Malamoud, McBratney, Minasny & Field 2008 </li></ul>
  7. 9. The proposition <ul><li>A soil carbon accounting and trading scheme </li></ul>
  8. 10. A soil carbon accounting and trading scheme Independent auditor Carbon Emitter Landholder Government Buy C offset Certified Carbon Emission Reduction credits Offsetting company soil carbon sequestration contract Carbon emission target Audit soil C at beginning and end of sequestration contract soil carbon audit reporting trail soil C auditing TOOL (Research) Advisor of Land management system Management to optimise C sequestration Ongoing Land Management and Soil Research reporting reporting e.g. C-Lock
  9. 11. The problem <ul><li>Soil carbon is difficult and relatively expensive to measure and monitor </li></ul><ul><li>Two aspects </li></ul>
  10. 12. Cost of measuring soil C <ul><li>Soil sampling ~ $100/profile </li></ul><ul><li>Each profile: 4 layers, total C measurement: $40 </li></ul><ul><li>Cost per profile: $140 </li></ul>
  11. 13. Variation of soil carbon with depth and across space
  12. 14. Changes over time Odeh et al. (2002)
  13. 15. And by the way ….. 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 No. years in irrigated cultivation Total C (dag kg -1 ) SEQUESTRATION POTENTIAL
  14. 16. Changes over time General trend of total soil C storage decline ~0.6 kg m -2 in 20 years Over the whole area (427 ha) ~ 2700 ton C
  15. 17. Solutions …… <ul><li>Cheaper measurement </li></ul><ul><li>Defining the object </li></ul><ul><li>Monitoring scheme </li></ul><ul><li>Stochastic contracts </li></ul>
  16. 18. Cheaper measurement <ul><li>Lab and field NIR/MIR, LIBS, INS </li></ul><ul><li>Cheaper but less precise </li></ul>
  17. 19. Cheaper measurement <ul><li>field NIR - profiler </li></ul><ul><li>Cheaper but less precise </li></ul>
  18. 23. Cheaper measurement <ul><li>field NIR – </li></ul><ul><li>on-the-go </li></ul><ul><li>Faster, one depth Cheaper but less precise </li></ul>
  19. 24. Inelastic neutron scattering Wielopolski et al., 2008 Nondestructive System for Analyzing Carbon in the Soil. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 72, 1269-1277
  20. 25. Defining the object <ul><li>What should the object be? </li></ul><ul><li>Paddock, landuse etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Need to measure  C </li></ul>
  21. 26. Monitoring scheme <ul><li>Scheme to measure  C with minimised known uncertainty </li></ul>
  22. 27. Monitoring scheme <ul><li>Too expensive? </li></ul><ul><li>Something simpler required </li></ul><ul><li>Need whole paddocks or properties </li></ul>Source: Australian Natural Resources Atlas http://www.anra.gov.au/topics/soils/monitoring/index.html
  23. 28. Nowley Liverpool Plains 2008 stratified random sampling scheme 1 Crop 2 Drainage 1 Remnant 2 Crop 1 Pasture 2 Pasture 3 Crop 3 Drainage 3 Pasture 4 Crop 4 Remnant 5 Pasture 4 Pasture Sample location N
  24. 29. Total C kg/m 3 N 6-10 11-15 16-20 21-25 26-30 31-35
  25. 30. STRATUM Total Carbon (kg/m 3 ) Stratum Area % Stratum Area (ha) Carbon (Mg = tonne) 4 cropping 13.4 34.5 247 33105 1 pasture 14.9 3.0 7 1086 4 pasture 15.1 1.7 169 25614 2 cropping 15.2 1.3 175 26532 2 drainage 16.6 16.0 10 1679 3 cropping 18.3 9.9 534 97741 3 drainage 18.4 10.9 46 8503 3 pasture 19.9 0.7 46 9212 1 cropping 20.5 4.5 12 2439 4 remnant veg 22.8 0.5 20 4459 1 remnant veg 23.0 11.3 70 16088 2 pasture 26.0 0.8 153 39821 5 pasture 27.1 5.1 79 21346 Total C to 1 m = 287 627 tonnes Total area of Nowley = 1570 ha
  26. 31. <ul><li>STILL TOO EXPENSIVE!!? </li></ul>
  27. 32. Carbon calculators Indicative Not accurate
  28. 33. Suggestion “Moral hazard reduction” contracts <ul><li>Inevitable uncertainty in  C. </li></ul><ul><li>Pay carbon sequesterer on, say, lower 95% confidence value </li></ul><ul><li>But if producer wants higher payment then he can invest in more measurement to reduce  C uncertainty. </li></ul>
  29. 34. Latest developments <ul><li>We have a 3-year Australian Research Council Linkage project to work on this – awarded Oct. 2008, begins Mar. 2009 </li></ul><ul><li>Partners USyd ACPA, EES and 3DAg. </li></ul>
  30. 35. Summary Independent auditor Carbon Emitter Landholder Government Buy C offset Certified Carbon Emission Reduction credits Offsetting company soil carbon sequestration contract Carbon emission target Audit soil C at beginning and end of sequestration contract soil carbon audit reporting trail soil C auditing TOOL (Research) Advisor of Land management system Management to optimise C sequestration Ongoing Land Management and Soil Research reporting reporting e.g. C-Lock
  31. 36. Conclusion <ul><li>Soil carbon auditing as part of carbon emissions offsets trading </li></ul><ul><li>There’s a good reason to do it </li></ul><ul><li>There are some obstacles </li></ul><ul><li>We need to find solutions quickly but we’re on the way </li></ul>
  32. 37. results N Total C kg/m3 1 - 16.60 16.61 – 20.48 20.49 – 22.99 23.00 – 27.05

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