Soil carbon sequestration rates and associated economic costs for farming systems of south-eastern Australia

Grace, Peter, Antle, John, Ogle, Stephen, Paustian, Keith, & Basso, Bruno (2010) Soil carbon sequestration rates and associated economic costs for farming systems of south-eastern Australia. Australian Journal of Soil Research, 48(8), pp. 720-729.

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Abstract

Soil organic carbon (C) sequestration rates based on the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) methodology were combined with local economic data to simulate the economic potential for C sequestration in response to conservation tillage in the six agro-ecological zones within the Southern Region of the Australian grains industry. The net C sequestration rate over 20 years for the Southern Region (which includes discounting for associated greenhouse gases) is estimated to be 3.6 or 6.3 Mg C/ha after converting to either minimum or no-tillage practices, respectively, with no-till practices estimated to return 75% more carbon on average than minimum tillage. The highest net gains in C per ha are realised when converting from conventional to no-tillage practices in the high-activity clay soils of the High Rainfall and Wimmera agro-ecological zones. On the basis of total area available for change, the Slopes agro-ecological zone offers the highest net returns, potentially sequestering an additional 7.1 Mt C under no-tillage scenario over 20 years.

The economic analysis was summarised as C supply curves for each of the 6 zones expressing the total additional C accumulated over 20 years for a price per t C sequestered ranging from zero to AU$200. For a price of $50/Mg C, a total of 427 000 Mg C would be sequestered over 20 years across the Southern Region, <5% of the simulated C sequestration potential of 9.1 Mt for the region. The Wimmera and Mid-North offer the largest gains in C under minimum tillage over 20 years of all zones for all C prices. For the no-tillage scenario, for a price of $50/Mg C, 1.74 Mt C would be sequestered over 20 years across the Southern Region, <10% of the simulated C sequestration potential of 18.6 Mt for the region over 20 years. The Slopes agro-ecological zone offers the best return in C over 20 years under no-tillage for all C prices. The Mallee offers the least return for both minimum and no-tillage scenarios. At a price of $200/Mg C, the transition from conventional tillage to minimum or no-tillage practices will only realise 19% and 33%, respectively, of the total biogeochemical sequestration potential of crop and pasture systems of the Southern Region over a 20-year period.

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ID Code: 43301
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: carbon sequestration, conservation tillage, economics, greenhouse gases
DOI: 10.1071/SR10063
ISSN: 0004-9573
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES (050000)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES (060000)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES (070000)
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Past > Institutes > Institute for Sustainable Resources
Deposited On: 13 Jul 2011 13:11
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2016 05:09

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