Transition to LLS – the failure to connect

In Australia the voting turnout was lower than Zimbabwe for the recent LLS elections. When you consider the build up to the elections was enthusiastically promoted by the NSW Government and the DPI you can understand the embarrassment of the turnout. What is difficult to understand the refusal to release the figure and facts of what went wrong?

On two previous occasions CO2Land org posted positive expectations for the process. On December 21, 2013, the story – Transition to LLS – NSW, 1 year on: “From 1 January 2014, the new Local Land Services (LLS) organisation will commence operating under the Local Land Service Act 2013” Source www.lls.nsw.gov.au . Notice of election – LLS Board Members to be conducted early 2014 and mooted to be ballot to close 12 March 2014. Prior to that Transition to LLS – NSW, December 2, 2012: “The theme of the transition is ‘let’s work together’ and it is said that ‘business as usual’ will continue in terms of maintaining commitment to the landholders”. So what went wrong, why is the Shadow Minister for Primary Industries (DPI), Steve Whan, calling for an inquiry into the low voter turnout?

To use what Whan is quoted as saying in a press release is, and published in the Bungendore Mirror 26 March 2014: “From my discussions with land owners, though, the main reason for low voter turnout was they had no confidence whatsoever in the LLS model nor that their voices would matter”, and “These boards are unrepresentative of NSW landowners and importantly they are appallingly unrepresentative of the vital role women play in rural communities”.

So it seem that the model is the issue for up to 90% of the eligible voters. The other matter was the voter registration process was botched. It might not be appropriate to comment any further on that matter, or at least until it is clarified by the DPI, or through any inquiry that might follow.

Is there any other information that might be relevant for the story? Well, yes get ready for this: The call for new Landcare action, a press release on the 25th anniversary of Landcare’s formation, the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), and the National Farmers Federation (NFF) have joined forces. This is not the first time they have teamed up for activities to reverse the degradation of farmland, public land and waterways. What is significant is that this alliance is meant to build relationships, not dictate or prescribe political edicts.

We could also draw the long bow here and say it is an ominous sign for the Green Army policy hopes for the Federal Government. Recently seen is a placard saying it had the answer to our rural woes – a Abbott proof fence! For those readers outside Australia, to help with controlling rabbits a rabbit proof fence was built in the outback. This reference to Abbott Proofing is part of the Australian form of humour. If you don’t get it – that’s OK it will come to you one day!

 

 

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Transition to LLS – NSW, 1year on

Having time the think, being in the long queue at the newly badged ‘Service NSW centre’. Then after a pleasant ‘sorry about the wait’ – all forgiven at that point. Soon after and reflecting the Service tag it was remembered CO2Land org wrote on 2 December 2012 ‘Transition to LLS – NSW’ and the concern then was the concern as to whether it was an aspirational goal that changes will result in improved services for Landholders. LLS is the acronym for Local Land Services.

So what is happening at LLS? “From 1 January 2014, the new Local Land Services (LLS) organisation will commence operating under the Local Land Service Act 2013” Source www.lls.nsw.gov.au . Notice of election – LLS Board Members to be conducted early 2014 and mooted to be ballot to close 12 March 2014. There are 11 regions of LLS and three members are to be elected for each with exception of Western region where four will be elected. What should be noted is that to be eligible to vote or stand you need to be enrolled under LLS for the region you are enrolled for, and if you were previously enrolled under the former Livestock Health and Pest Authority (LHPA) the enrollment will not be automatically transferred to LLS enrollment. You have to make an effort to do so, and the date to do so is given as by 17 February 2014.

The Tablelands landholder newsletter, December 2013 edition, says the LLS is a new grass roots model for regional service delivery, and brings together technical and advisory knowledge from the Department of Primary Industries, Livestock Health and Pest Authorities and Catchment Management Authorities. All the assets of the authorities will be handed over to the new bodies by 31 December 2013. Is it to be a new broom? Time will tell, no doubt.

The Bungendore Mirror, 18 December 2013 Edition, wrote of the appointment of Gavin Whiteley as General Manager of the South East region of LLS and the words CO2Land org liked were “I am passionate about growing a thriving, innovative, diverse rural Australia and excited about being able to apply my skills, knowledge and experience”.

 

CFI – a XANADU

If you follow that Shangdu as the summer capital of Kublai Khan’s empire, then you would be forgiven for thinking the CFI is our XANADU and an enigmatic bright feature on the surface. Thereby, we have a problem because it is being profiled as exactly that and actively marketed by government as a series of experiments to showcase. Practitioners are asking: What about us in the ‘real’ world, can we believe something that looks good on the surface is enough? Some say yes, many no.

This conversation started because projects are to be funded that address recognised program gaps of the Carbon Farming Futures activities. This round: The Extension and Outreach Phase two submissions were due Wednesday June 12 5pm. Information is be found on Extension and Outreach daff.gov.au.

Some disquiet continues and numerous amounts of feedback do focus on the issue of the bankable when needing to finance, and other is the number of reference groups that were set up to work through the matters and the concern some of the critical consultation groups are difficult to contact or not able to be mobilized. A prime example being: The Biochar Reference Group. After some searching key people advocating the approach found part of the problem was people moving on to further their personal interests. The difficulty is that the group has funding to develop the soil carbon methodology necessary to be approved by the DOIC to produce ACCU’s (carbon credit units), and although soil carbon methodologies now has an active ‘reference group’ to attempt to push it along, the two subgroups (Mixed farming, and Rangelands) do not, or have not formally communicated what each are up to in their work levels. Compounding this the CFI is looking less of a ‘farming’ initiative in terms of reward systems, and as of the time of writing the government has not produced an example of a good news story on a true ‘farming’ credit. It is difficult to sell virtues without success stories and Gant chart the project support from the farming community without it.

A closer look at the cost of participating is also most interesting, and it is easy to see another genuine hurdle is related to the methodologies development. There is considerable variation in calculating the cost of participating, and some use this as an excuse that farmers are simply not ready to seek approval of their methods, some say it is simply too expensive to get approval. Some even say there is a genuine disinterest for government to get on with ‘innovation’ attempts.

In terms of cost we need to consider that published 8 April 2013 by Co2Land.org: ” It costs up to $1M to develop a methodology acceptable under CFI. Once accepted the transaction cost to create the ACCU’s is said to be about $70,000. Although it is not a definite cost, it can be less but a reasonable guide and it requires you to look carefully at the potential yield of each project and whether you can smear the transaction cost across the entire project to determine the minimum size for it to be a worthwhile program”.  Then Country Carbon ( www.CountryCarbon.com.au ) said the numbers posted by CO2land of transaction cost of $70k for ACCUs are ridiculous. They made no attempt to say what is a typical transaction cost other than a comment, and the spokesperson (identified as NC) said “I have no idea where they sourced those”. Curiously NC goes on to say: “The Clean Energy Regulator register shows only a few projects from farmers and only 1 I believe has done a transaction. 
I doubt very much that every methodology needs $1 million for development as well. Too many variables to generalize”.

Co2Land org agrees that too many variables are involved, and then notes two other people advocating for the CFI saying: “None of the methodologies applicable to general farming, that we have examined so far, appear to have net positive financial benefits. Some can lead to substantial unknown liabilities in the future or limit land use in overly prescriptive ways. 

If I am wrong in this please correct me, and show me where it does work and I will be happy to spread the good news”. 

And, “I am a farmer (even if less active than I would like) and all the ones I know are not only not ready to adopt but are only following the program with peripheral interest until such times that they are satisfied something of genuine benefit to their own operation has become apparent. Many I have talked to see it as another under handed greenie grab for the land, some of the prescriptions on approved methodologies certainly seem lifted from this camp. 

Methodology development using all our substantial ‘in house’ skills and resources we estimate to still cost in excess of $100,000 with no guarantee of success “(source identified as PK). Then source LK – not related, said “Many unresolved issues remain, however moving ahead is better than waiting for the ‘perfect’ answer in my view. Just wish for political consistency at this end – the fact that State Coalitions have stripped climate change policies bare is of most concern to me.”

In all this there does seem to be agreement that for farmers, environmental planting does not pay a sufficient return to justify the investment on carbon alone. NC also said “It is also considered that the RMT tool (modeling tool) is deliberately using carbon sequestration estimates well below average because no direct sampling is required for audit”. Possibly this is an oversight, maybe not? In this approach they have taken an ultra conservative approach and the indications are these carbon estimates are so low it is not economical to do it – participate in the initiative that is!  So it remains only one of those methodologies remain with few takers. Even the CSIRO was showing how low these estimates are for the RMT. Reported is the government has taken a decision to use the lowest rates possible for landholders carbon sequestration from tree planting. A good source of this view is https://twitter.com/CountryCarbon/status/332655918254792706/photo/1 

They go on to say: ”In simple language the govt will only recognize extremely low carbon sequestration rates regardless of what happens on the land. It is not even the mid-point average. So that farmers would earn very few carbon offsets. Therefore they say, why bother? 

Most of the extension and outreach to date talks about tree planting or piggeries. (Piggeries are a different question). Most projects approved are all about landfill projects and they are town councils.” They also say: “It actually has less to do with government cut backs or Coalition vs Labor politics and more to do with implementation”. More than one providing input say it may be just a simple matter as readjusting the RMT tool.

CO2Land org intends to continue this thread of knowledge and asks: Unless you be fortunate enough to have a government program that is more generous behind you. 
Should we lobby government harder to be more encouraging for innovation in CFI?

Notwithstanding, CO2Land org wish everyone the best with their endeavours in the initiative. Applauded is the intention is well founded, the legislations well intended, and the potential well received – but something is missing! Maybe it is a case of it is too difficult to include farming in CFI and the outreach context for farmers is that the potential liabilities that could be incurred by landholders using some already approved methodologies are not properly explained and/or are dismissed as of a trivial nature. The great harm in this possibility is that the program reputation will be tainted – irrespective of its intention of fairness. Even recent Government decisions on department restructuring (especially the Department of the long name – too long to repeat) and budget constraints required by departments and the continued efficiency dividends to Treasury are not helpful to the pledge. What is hoped for by farming advocates and practitioners is a more direct show of continuous steps to perfection for the farming community and eliminating any direction that might be seen as a series of steps to dismantle or derail such a worthwhile cause from its name sake – the Carbon Farming Initiative.

CFI – untangling the confusion.

While discussing how you go about untangling the confusion around land carbon science and climate change mitigation policy. The CFI group noticed that the Nature Publishing Group has published that wide held beliefs are “scientifically flawed”. It then became necessary to wonder about agenda and again you had to ask was it to further confuse and did it serve any real purpose in publishing the article other than it being a academic assessment – it appears another clue is the time difference from the receipt of the article to publishing was around 7 months.

To quote the abstract of this subscription service found under:

http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v3/n6/full/nclimate1804.html

Depletion of ecosystem carbon stocks is a significant source of atmospheric CO2 and reducing land-based emissions and maintaining land carbon stocks contributes to climate change mitigation. We summarize current understanding about human perturbation of the global carbon cycle, examine three scientific issues and consider implications for the interpretation of international climate change policy decisions, concluding that considering carbon storage on land as a means to ‘offset’ CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels (an idea with wide currency) is scientifically flawed. The capacity of terrestrial ecosystems to store carbon is finite and the current sequestration potential primarily reflects depletion due to past land use. Avoiding emissions from land carbon stocks and refilling depleted stocks reduces atmospheric CO2 concentration, but the maximum amount of this reduction is equivalent to only a small fraction of potential fossil fuel emissions.

CO2Land org prefers an apolitical stance on what matters. However, it could not be helped that the views above may undermine our Australian values for the Carbon Farming Initiative. It may also be pertinent to put to the public that there is an immediate need to offset carbon from fossil fuels, that no measure in its self should be judged into eternity.  What this need does show is the measures should only be judged on its effects on the term a methodology may be useful. That is, does it matter, in terms of carbon offset, that it makes a difference for 10, 25 or up to 100 years. or eternity. That if you want to make a difference, and monetary gains are more a matter for survival levels as opposed to money venture gains it matters only that there is bi partisan political support for the concepts and actions.

The reference to “scientifically flawed” in the quoted article maybe a headline grabber but as the difference possible through land carbon policy is quantifiable. It is a genuine action and debate will only result in no action – and that is the tragic consequence.  We know science supports that view of the potential tragic consequence.

Movements – a Viable CFI methodology

Under debate for some time has been whether reforestation, and afforestation should be part of the CFI. It was thought only conservation planting was viable as a measure under Natural Resource Management (NRM) rules. In more recent times part of discussion was a concern that political movements would be disruptive.

Two announcements made by the Australian Government on these matters by newsletter on 12 April 2013 may be helpful for the debate. Namely:

  1. First reforestation and afforestation project approved, and
  2. No changes to methodology development following changes to the Cabinet.

Posted on April 8, 2013 by co2land, Makers – a Viable CFI methodology the point was made it is not a simple process to develop CFI Methodology and program rules are a major factor in participating, and the recent Government announcements will address most of those points (but not the coalitions position).

On point 1: The Clean Energy Regulator under the Carbon Farming Initiative has announced the first project using the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) (Reforestation and Afforestation) Determination 2013. There are now 53 projects approved under the Carbon Farming Initiative. All projects declared eligible under the CFI Act are published on the Register of Offsets Projects.

On point 2: Work on the development and assessment of Carbon Farming Initiative methodologies undertaken by the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (DCCEE) will continue apace under new Ministerial Responsibilities announced recently by the Prime Minister.

DCCEE’s energy efficiency functions will be have been transferred into the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism (DRET) while the remaining policy functions currently performed by DCCEE, including the CFI, will be have been transferred to the newly-named Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education (DIICCSRTE).

Former DCCEE staff working on the CFI and other land sector measures will move to DIICCSRTE and continue their work accordingly.

Whether participating in CFI or not is still very much a matter of it depends on the location and the carbon sequestration rates that would be possible for it to be viable.

If we start by avoiding the cost of participation discussion, one non-scientific way to help you decide is to ask: Did the area to be used have really large trees present in the past? If yes it could be very viable. It follows that nature will want to regenerate those areas into large carbon rich forests. In gathering your evidence you could include old local history photos of the areas showing the large density of trees on them. In choosing a more scientific way: Gather the Lot & DP numbers and/or GPS points, and the CFI environmental tools should be useful to tell the landholder the likely sequestration rates. However, as we said in the former Co2Land org post the uncontrollable factor in proving if it is viable is the price of carbon. Notice it was not said the ‘carbon price’ as that is an artificial price set for the transition period.

If we focus on the cost of developing a methodology for inclusion into the CFI program register the major factor is cost in terms of the capability to enter into initiative. You may find innovation is required for a “creative” way to recover the cost of developing a methodology. Or is it? It follows that once published on the climate change website it becomes public information. However, it will still take some effort and there will be a need to lobby Government to allow the methodology to be used by another entity. In equity you should anticipate any agreement might require a royalty payment to the original developer.

If you can overcome the matter of cost, it becomes a question of what CFI environmental tools you refer to for the CFI Mapping and Reforestation Modeling tools. Also the methodology costs will depend on the level of verification and any additional research required, in many cases there are sufficient prior studies (such as survival & growth rates in the targeted region) and accepted calculation methods to do this could be found from a literature search, or you could talk to others trying to develop the same thing. It is understood the web page: http://www.greeningaustralia.org.au/our-projects/land/bio4 will promote further research on this matter.

One suggested project to study as a background search is the NSW Blacktown Council and their Regenesis Project. That project has lessons that can be of benefit to be aware of in your deliberations. One example lesson is they had a significant grant to develop their concepts and actually generated the first carbon credits only to have a later policy decision rule projects within urban boundaries to be ineligible. Notwithstanding, the core of their work is valid. You can view the Regenesis projects on the website – www.australiancarbontraders.com and then click on the Regenesis link on the front page.

So frustration will continue and innovation continues to be encouraged – for those eligible – and that suggests you need friends to be recognized as able to be innovative. At cross purposes you might argue!  An anonymous friend, name provided but withheld, said “in an entirely different forum some years ago we flagged this as a problem for the then announced Innovation Strategy. The senior public servant delivering the local launch responded: We can’t have people solving problems in unique ways that we can’t predict, you wouldn’t know where would it all end up!

It would seem the core problem with the current grant model is that it is primarily a funding model for the usual suspects, as practiced the truly (open) competitive component is only a small % of the funding available.

We need a better approach that covers needs of Universities and commonwealth and state research agencies separately.”

Then we hear funding has no longer been provided for strategic innovation!

Makers – a Viable CFI methodology

Recently a discussion group was asked for information on the area needed to make a Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) methodology viable. I follows the answer is not as simple as it should be and part of the problem is the rules can change and even the responsible entity itself might change. This statement is not an example of a remote possibility, it is very much what is likely to happen.

First issue: The market.

Currently a Australian Carbon Credit Unit is reported as holding steady at approximately the Carbon Price Mechanism expectation of $23 (actually ACCU spot price is $22.60 at 4 April 2013). Compared to the trading prices of others. For example the Carbon + Market Daily (www.cedaily.com.au) shows European Union Allowances (EUA eligible on Australian Scheme from mid 2015 – June 2016: AUD $7.48 – no change) 
* Certified Emission Reductions (CER eligible on Australian Scheme from mid 2015 – June 2016: AUD $0.67 – up 6.4%) 
* New Zealand Units (NZU spot can’t be used to meet liabilities under the Australian scheme: NZD $1.97 – down 2.5%) 
* Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCU spot Kyoto units issued under the CFI that can be used to help meet Australian scheme liabilities: AUD $22.60 – no change). They also report of conflicting market drivers, and this is in addition to the Coalition threats to dismantle the carbon price mechanism, that the European market is struggling to hold above EUR5 on moderate volumes. Problems include:

1) An increasing likelihood that backloading will be passed as more countries come out in support of the proposal; and

2) High auction volumes relative to emitter demand.

3) Increased selling in the New Zealand market as more participants’ look to switch out of their NZUs and into cheaper international units.

4) June 2016 prices for EUAs and CERs reflect the cost of these units to an entity liable under the Australian scheme’s floating price phase.

5) The EUA (December 2013 contract) is a focus as this drives price movements and is a key indicator of EU (European Union) market sentiment.

Conclusion – first issue: Transactions involving carbon give rise to substantial risk (including regulatory risk) and are not suitable for all investors. It is recommend that you seek your own independent legal or financial advice before proceeding with any investment decision

Second issue: Carbon Auction Rules.

The Clean Energy Regulator is likely to be required to offer 60 million carbon units in 2013-14 under draft carbon auction rules. The potential is the opening price is at 60% of the international market price. Follow the link of the

exposure draft of a carbon auction determination, and it will outlines arrangements for auctions that are set to begin next financial year.

If you are relying on an incoming Coalition Government to repeal the determination, you should note s113(9) of the Clean Energy Act allows the Regulator to hold auctions even without the determination. It might not be so simple as a statement to win votes – it is written in stone so to speak.

Conclusion – Second issue: Without control of the senate, or if the senate is hostile, a Coalition repeal instrument would be disallowable. This introduces additional risk, and additional to regulatory risk. As in the first issue it is recommended you seek your own independent and financial and legal advice.

Third Issue: ACCU methodology.

It costs up to $1M to develop a methodology acceptable under CFI. Once accepted the transaction cost to create the ACCU’s is said to be about $70,000. Although it is not a definite cost, it can be less but a reasonable guide and it requires you to look carefully at the potential yield of each project and whether you can smear the transaction cost across the entire project to determine the minimum size for it to be a worthwhile program.

One way to develop a methodology and reduce your cost base is to apply to the 

Methodology Development Program (MDP) for a grant to develop the methodology. The 

MDP is a 
$19.6 million for the development of methodologies for use in the Carbon Farming Initiative. The fund is administered by the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (DCCEE).

However, recently the Government has moved from 26 March 2013 that DCCEE be in transition to be part of a new super department called the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education. 

It is reported as a move the Australian Government hopes will be seen as logical and a way to portray that climate change is taken seriously across all of government and across all portfolios. Details changes are yet to be fully announced, albeit it is known the Climate Change Adaptation Strategy has changed with 140 projects, 33 university programs and 100 researchers affected – source ABC.net.au.

Conclusion – Third issue: Before expending too much time on the methodology. The suggestion is you follow up on who would administer the program post transition to the super department, and the will to continue with the program. Any changes will have cost implications for your efforts.

If only we had certainty!

the trends with small business and on the farm

Wishing to better understand the trends with small business and on the farm, Caring for our Country demonstrates it continues to actively solicit what is happening and is active in keeping our interest. The following is a part of the outreach activity known as BizQuotes and what follows is part of some of information from that unit:

Australian small businesses are among the least optimistic in the Asia-Pacific region – research by accounting firm, CPA Australia, found 60% of Australian companies expect to grow their business in 2013 – Indonesia was leading the way, with 94% of firms expecting their businesses to grow – 14% of the Australian businesses increased their staff numbers in 2012, compared with 61% in Indonesia – 47% of the Australian firms were forced to use a personal credit card to pay for business activities, compared with only 12% – Source: Indonesia Herald Sun 11 Dec 2012.

Recently a group of criminal hackers was successful in 93% of its attempts overseas to infect personal computers – they froze 18,941 PCs with a message demanding over $100 to unlock them – 15% of the victims paid – the group took about $400,000 in the day – even when payment was made, the hackers didn’t unlock the computers. Source: HBR 11 Nov 2012.

Australia is a nation of entrepreneurs, with 1 actively trading business for every 10 people – but small businesses are growing more than 3 times slower than the economy – almost 40% have collapsed in the last 4 years. Source: SmartCompany 13 Dec 2012.

This year’s Australian Innovation System Report suggests innovative firms of all sizes are almost twice as likely to report an increase in productivity compared to those that do not innovate – innovative firms are also 42% more likely to increase profitability, 3 times more likely to export, and 4 times more likely to increase the range of goods or services offered. But the percentage of Australian businesses seeking finance for innovation has declined by 40% since 2006-07 – venture capital and later-stage private equity investment has also declined substantially over the same period. Sourced: SmartCompany 12 Dec 2012.

The ageing agrifood workforce of 880,000 people involved in 180,000 small to medium-sized enterprises also has the potential to benefit from rapid innovations in remote access technology with 57% living in rural areas. Source: SmartCompany 12 Dec 2012.

The Australian wine industry exports around 65% of its production worth about $1.9 billion. Source: PSNews 11 Dec 2012.

Tourism contributed nearly $34 billion (nearly 10% of total export earnings) to Australia’s GDP – it directly employs over 500,000 people. Source: PSNews 11 Dec 2012.

There are 157,000 farmers in Australia – nearly 300 farmers have left the land each month over the past 30 years, partly because young people have been reluctant to take over the family farm – farmer numbers have shrunk by 40% (by 106,000). Source: The Australian and AFR 12 Dec 2012.

But the smaller number of farmers who remain produce $32.5 billion in food exports today compared to $8.2 billion 30 years ago – the proportion that have a university education has increased by 600% since 1981. Source: The Australian 12 Dec 2012.

More than 25% of farmers are older than 65 compared with 3% in other occupations – the median age is 53, compared with 40 for other occupations – and the farmer age of 44 in 1981. Source: The Australian and AFR 12 Dec 2012.

More than 50% of farmers work for more than 49 hours per week compared with only 17% of people in other occupations – but farmers only earn an average disposable income of $568 a week, nearly 40% less than the average of all other jobs. Source: The Australian and AFR 12 Dec 2012.

55% of agricultural operations are estimated to turn over less than $100,000 a year – only 6% have operations turn over more than $1 million. Source: The Australian and AFR 12 Dec 2012.

Over the past 50 years improved farming techniques and technologies have helped to significantly increase crop yields along with a 12% expansion of farmed land use – however, with global food production already uses nearly half of the usable land surface, a further increase in land surface may severely impact on the world’s natural ecosystems. The challenge is that an increase in animal-based production will require much greater land – 1 hectare of land can produce enough rice or potatoes to feed 19-22 people per annum – the same area will only produce enough lamb or beef for 1 or 2 people. Source: The Institution of Mechanical Engineers – Jan 2013.

An average of 7-10 calories of energy input is required to produce 1 calorie of food – varying from 3 calories for plant crops to 35 calories for the production of beef. 78% of the world’s agricultural land is already used for animal production and meat consumption is rising per person in many developing nations – only about 3% of the energy consumed by livestock remains in edible animal tissue. Source: The Institution of Mechanical Engineers – Jan 2013.

For every cubic metre of water applied the potato produces 5.60kcal of dietary energy – maize 3.86kcal – wheat 2.3 kcal – rice only 2 kcal. For the same cubic metre of water, the potato yields 150g of protein (double that of wheat and maize) and 540 mg of calcium (double that of wheat and four times that of rice) – overall, 2 kcal is produced per cubic metres of water used on plant-based food and 0.25kcal is produced for meat-based food. About 40% of the world’s food is produced on irrigated land – taking up 17% of agricultural land. A study in the USA on the amount of water used in processing vegetables found that it ranged from 13 – 64 tonnes of water for each tonne of vegetables – in the case of fruits it ranged from 3.5 – 32 tonnes of water. Source: The Institution of Mechanical Engineers – Jan 2013.

Many thanks to Garry Reynolds of Caring for Our Country in Canberra for providing the sourced material

the notion of “water flow uphill”

“They thought there was a communication problem, and that what he was saying (‘Getting the water to flow uphill for the plants’) should not be taken as a literal translation. Interesting that many of us armed with conventional wisdom, with sleeves rolled up and espousing there is only one view of the world. That is a world with a benign bias that is a result of their own ignorance, a bias shared by the establishment where they are happy to “Recognise traditional owners” but completely ignore 40,000 years of stable landscape management as being not scientifically based (due to their own biased view of what constitutes science).

Co2Land is not the author of what is written in the opening paragraph. However, on reflection it is very possible we are ignorant if not wrong for what we believe to be truth.  Truth, like real, prior, could be a synonym or even a proprietary product and still be wrong. We could be ignoring one of Einstein’s greatest tenants (the universe depends on the perspective of the observer).

Looking at the concept of a net movement of water away from drainage lines is possible when you research even at a basic level, like Wikipedia, or as follows as published by http://science.jrank.org/pages/1182/Capillary-Action.html#ixzz2JIvrD9qD:

“The force with which water is held by capillary action varies with the quantity of water being held. Water entering a natural void, such as a pore within the soil, forms a film on the surface of the material surrounding the pore. The adhesion of the water molecules nearest the solid material is greatest. As water is added to the pore, the thickness of the film increases, the capillary force is reduced in magnitude, and water molecules on the outer portion of the film may begin to flow under the influence of gravity. As more water enters the pore the capillary force is reduced to zero when the pore is saturated. The movement of groundwater through the soil zone is controlled, in part, by capillary action. The transport of fluids within plants is also an example of capillary action. As the plant releases water from its leaves, water is drawn upward from the roots to replace it”(Read more: Capillary Action – Liquid, Water, Force, and Surface – JRank Articles ).

This illustrates that science supports what the indigenous know in that water can back out across the slopes due to capillary action and in this way encouraging growth and interconnection of the soil “fungal mat”, and from the perspective of the observer in the drainage line moving the water ‘uphill’.  With a closed mind we might say ‘not possible’ – yet the Romans BC did it with viaducts and manipulating volume pressures to do so.  Should we have an open mind for these things? The answer appears to be it is beyond a cost benefit it is just a big yes.

If we relate this to the methodology process of the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) a strong case can be made for inclusion, greater than savanna burning. As told to us we could see success and it opens up millions of hectares of bush to better management part funded by carbon credits generated.  The advocates of this method gave CO2Land org an example of what could happen in an area of 1000ha. Said was: “If patches are prescriptive burnt on a ten year rotation then this would yield 120 tonnes of soil carbon sequestered a year, and if we assume 360 Australian Carbon Credit Units (CFI credits) @23 dollars per tonne. An income boost of +$8000 a year is possible”. If accepted is it noted all of this is possible from this activity without wholesale alteration to the natural balance.

CO2Land org has previously postulated that $7,000 per annum is needed as an enticement for participation in complex methods so this possibility would be enough to offset the liabilities of land ownership (rates, weeds control, land use etc), and give additional benefits that include productivity improvements and/or other opportunities generated.

If you wish to be critical we accept that the bio char method is acceptable under National Resource Management program (NRM). However, out point is in order to incentivize a market for the concept the CFI and ACCU’s are a better way to go and could open up a multi product concept with the potential for the way forward for the sustainable environment and hopefully those faithful to carbon will no longer be in a blue state and that will be because they no longer will be only living in hope and will be able to participate in a reality. We will get a result.

 

 

the notion of “cool” patch burning

January 2013, has been very distracting and the extreme fire conditions have woken us from our usual persistence to stay in holiday mode a little longer. Traditionally it is a less than optimum time for putting forward ideas and getting anything done. Friends schooled in adult education training warned us NOT to try and run courses in January because people retain their school holiday mindset well into their senior years, and even if you can get them to turn up they will be distracted and inattentive.

Fire has been often characterized as the best servant and the worst master (you may have heard this expressed in many different ways). Last evening at a local rural firefighting service get together, as expected, the politics of fire was in the forefront of casual discussion. Yet, some very important debate happened of interest: We talked of fire management and the attitudes of each of us towards, and the implications for, landscape management.

Introduced into the discussion was how the government measured success of their many programs. We at this point input our interest to expand the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) methodology on savanna burning to a more focused area of controlled burning as was practiced by the indigenous in times past and the difference being in those traditional ways the management was to avoid total incineration and encourage regeneration and improve soil fertility.

In relation to the traditional burning practices cited, the various land managers, both government & private, agreed the need to stimulate considerable discussion was evident. Those that opposed said they were having some trouble accepting the notion of “cool” patch burning. They don’t like it because it leaves too much charcoal on the ground which they think will fuel the next fire, and the only answer is to ensure hotter more complete burns to reduce the fuel back to mineral ash. One even went so far as to say, ‘do you think the indigenous knew what they were doing, they had no intention of managing the landscape, fire was an accident that just got away from them and the benefits were accidental’. Our reply, does it matter that they planned the benefit, what matters was they learned something and have knowledge from the experience, and the issue must be effective communication is needed for a better understanding and to ensure that knowledge is not lost. To have the attitude that all that we need to do to manage the risk for the environment is indulge in recursive behavior is nonsense.

Saying there was a communication problem was the catalyst for a more rational response and the group was then more open to accept they needed to engage in more than polite conversation and to actually open themselves to the thought our indigenous colleagues deserve an audience for what they say is a solution to our degrading rural scape.

Further background material can be followed up as Posted on January 20, 2013 by co2land

CFI – ‘black swan event’ treatments

CFI – ‘black swan event’ treatments

Friends recently said they have been challenging conventional thinking, and they are tiring of the seemingly ‘black swan event’ treatment for their CFI ideas. It seems despite what is obvious until it is policy it cannot be measured and the process to change that view requires a consensus from the vested interests. In open discussion it was thought the matter centered around influence and the funding facility too old school as it measures either through historic evaluation or by a formulae that has not been questioned. This could be relevant because we are talking of the action of innovation being exercised to get results as opposed to standard measures for an outcome.

It follows that I was told a few years ago ‘ as a courageous person we need to reward you, a generous package should do it. But beware your ability to see through the veneer of policy, and act with sincerity is not the true reality of the politics. This of course points to how easy it is that the person acting out of moral fortitude can be seen as counterproductive in the minds of those that ‘play the game’. CO2Land org postulates that the ultimate manifestation of the artificial reality is by manifesting confusion and resentment and formulating as if the views were facts in order to direct perceptions of ‘doing good’ in their public decision-making declarations.  Postulating in this way shows that the courageous are seem as dangerous to those maintaining the Status Quo, or business as usual, and to get momentum for your good ideas or even get a fair audience on the carbon risk products you might offer will be subject to a difficult path.

A very good example is provided by Peter & Kerry Davies <realpowersystems@gmail.com>where they said it is eerily quiet when we asked about Bio char Methodology using Traditional Indigenous burning techniques. When questioned it was obvious they have products and advanced thinking capabilities that can reduce emissions and control waste impacts. They also actively showcase what is possible and are prepared to demonstrate the possible and as a direct quote from them where they asked a government officer in Climate Change a question on business as usual in the hope it could receive a fair audience, or influence for a commonsense response:

“Can you tell us whether there is any Carbon Methodologies based on Aboriginal burning practice under consideration or proposed?

The reason we ask is that we were privileged to have Rod Mason the Monaro Landscape Connectivity Project’s Indigenous Land Manager out to our property yesterday. He was showing us how they would manage some woodland and forest restoration using small patch burning. Now the question was asked of us by one of the other project officer’s present ‘Did we understand what he was doing and how it actually worked?’(Because they had witnessed some outstanding results but had no good scientific explanation for what was really happening).

The funny part is we do, but only because of our multidisciplinary background in sustainable forest management AND bio char production and use. What he showed us was a distillation of several thousand years of practice evolved through observation of the response.”

The Davies are uniquely qualified for their perspective, and know that these methods are actually optimised in situ bio char production techniques where temperature and duration of the process is controlled and aimed at minimizing damage to living plants and creating a interconnected pathway “for mycorrhizal fungi growth, which in itself is one of the key reasons  Bio char provides benefits well above its inherent fertiliser value”.

CO2Land org knows there is lots more to this and the material viewed shows a viable business we are quietly excited about. What is needed is recognition of the methodology. It is proposed that CFI and ACCU creation is the way forward. The ACCU could be more effective in encouraging the benefit from the concepts – it will also provide the incentives for training and education and research that might fill in our own knowledge gaps. It is certainly worthy of much greater research than we are aware is happening.

Some numbers you might like to think about in terms of conversion to bio char:

Method as proposed – char ratio yield approx. 5%

Uncontrolled bushfire – char ratio yield approx. 1%

In perspective (back of the envelope calculation) the yield volume of the method proposed would produce a suggested volume equivalent to around 1.25 tonnes/ha bio char application through this managed patch burning. The Davies’ mention that “this practice should not to be confused with large area mosaic burning as practiced by National Parks Managers”. The point out being “mosaic burning is a poor parody of the indigenous practices”.

It should also be added that “Rod Mason indicated that Wattles, Tea trees and Eucalypts produced different chars that were applied in specific areas to encourage particular plant communities” – Interesting is it not?