The Courier Mail, Millicent Fleming: Emerald Central Queensland News
Every 20 seconds for the past year, an Australia company has tracked the water intake and output of soil and plants at properties in Queensland and NSW, as part of a major study to measure soil carbon.
Independent, Australian-owned and family run agricultural technology company Agrimix is trail blazing not just at a state or even national level, but is reinventing the wheel globally when it comes to creating farming technology that is yet to hit the market.
This specific piece of technology will read the carbon emissions that producers offset by working the land, which allows Australian landholders the ability to buy and sell carbon emissions on the stock market.
The technology and science are more advanced than what is presently on the market, so much so that it could allow producers the prior knowledge of the ground and plants before their production season to get the best growth with the minimum amount of carbon emissions – a win for landowners, environmentalists, politicians, investors, and scientists alike.
In the past few years Agrimix has been working alongside Queensland University of Technology, Queensland and News South Wales land holders, Meat and Livestock Australia, and regenerative cattle property investment company, Packhorse, and scientists who are recognised internationally for the work in their respective fields.
Agrimix is the first company in Australia to pursue a large-scale scientific research study into eddy covariance flux tower technology in partnership with QUT’s Professor Peter Grace and Associate Professor David Rowlings.
It is a study which has spanned across two states, over the course of one year, with every 20 seconds of those days producing data that has been tracked and monitored by measuring the water intake and output of the soil and plants, as well as the carbon flows in and out of the two.
The enormity of which isn’t lost on Agrimix CEO, Ben Sawley, who believes that in order to successfully design and manufacture a world class product, you need team of world class experts.
“The significance of our flux tower research is ground breaking due to the quality and expertise of our science team and their partnerships,” Mr Sawley said.
“They are world class. The opportunities to increase productivity and sequester carbon in Australia are large based on improving pasture land performance, however, major barriers to land holders releasing carbon credits have been high cost, and variable accuracy.”
Mr Sawley knows producers across the country would be more than to happy take part in the government’s carbon emission trading scheme but the current technology available on the market is too costly and ineffective, both in terms of the science, and the time spent to justify the end results they might achieve as part of the government program.
“Currently the cost to measure soil carbon through drilling soil cores and transporting them to a lab for analysis can be more than $30 per hectare, which makes the carbon credit market unattainable for a significant proportion of landholders,” Mr Sawley said.
“We are focused on delivering the most accurate, scientifically proven and economical soil carbon measurement and modelling toolkit available.
“In contrast, using a well-tested soil carbon model, frequently calibrated and validated with flux tower data, offers relatively low ongoing operating costs over large areas.
“We believe the eddy flux technique and our reference network will be a key component in modelling agricultural systems, enabling landholders to simulate soil carbon and productivity changes under different management practices, before starting their projects.”
John Scott, a beef producer at ‘Allandale’ in Roma is one such land producer.
“While many farmers and graziers want to participate in carbon sequestration projects to maximise their land and help the environment, the barriers are substantial,” Mr Scott said.
“This is news we’ve been waiting for as it will enable us to use a trusted measurement tool to realise commercial opportunities on our land while supporting the environment,” Mr Scott said.
Chair of Packhorse Investments Australia, Tim Samway, said as organisations globalled pledged net zero targets, an increasing quantity of carbon credit units would be required to offset emissions.
“Soil carbon is a key low-emissions technology, so further development of affordable and accurate technology such as flux towers and soil carbon models is a game-changer,” Mr Samway said.
“But not all approaches to measuring soil carbon changes are created equal and it is critical that landholders seek out scientifically proven and tested methods to maximise their investment in this technology and generate the most accurate information.
“The carbon credit market grew to US$851m in 2021 (Reuters Feb 2022) so it is exciting to be a part of developing Australian-led initiatives that enable landholders to participate and profit from this fast-emerging market.”