26 Jun 2010

Farmers must change to get more carbon in soil - scientist

5:52 pm on 26 June 2010

A radical change in farming practices is needed to increase carbon levels in soil, because that's the key to producing healthier soil and, in turn, more nutritious food, says a visiting scientist.

Researchers in New Zealand and overseas have been studying the potential for storing carbon in soil, because it has far greater storage capacity than trees and other vegetation.

They say increasing carbon storage in soil can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as improving soil health and agricultural production.

But Australian soil ecologist Christine Jones, who is in New Zealand to run a series of workshops on the subject, says conventional farming practices work against being able to increase carbon in the form of stable humus in soil.

Dr Jones is a founder of the Australian Soil Carbon Accreditation Scheme, a trust that gives incentive payments to farmers to increase the carbon in their soil through composting and the use of biologically friendly fertilisers.