‘Wasted’ land earning millions with carbon

Rebecca Gredley
(Australian Associated Press)


Previously “wasted” land is earning a NSW farmer millions with its ability to store carbon to reduce Australia’s emissions.

Peter Yench of Cobar’s Bulgoo Station has received nearly $1 million a year over the past three years from carbon farming.

Some 9300ha of his 21,000ha property is set aside for carbon storage under the avoid deforestation method.

Mr Yench has a permit to clear the land but earns money by choosing not to and opting to revegetate it instead.

Under the 100-year deal, Mr Yench is paid carbon credits for the first 20 years with a requirement to maintain the land for the remaining 80.

“It was a wasted area of ground and by tying it up for 100 years and getting a payment for carbon storage it made it very valuable,” he told AAP on Wednesday.

“And the end of the day it was a big advantage for the landowner and the country, we’ve got to do something about our atmosphere and biodiversity.

“If somebody doesn’t do something and doesn’t do it now, I don’t know what it will be like in another 50 years’ time. It’s got to be cleaned up.”

Mr Yench is also looking at soil carbon, an area the federal government has this week listed as a key priority.

A base test is done on the soil and repeated a year later to see if more carbon is being stored, with farmers paid for an increase.

“It encourages the land owners to look after the land,” Mr Yench said.

“The more ground cover you’ve got the more carbon you’re going to hold in the soil, it’s all about management really.”

Energy Minister Angus Taylor wants soil carbon measurement to cost less than $3 per hectare a year, down from its current $30 price.

Co-chair of the newly established Soil Carbon Industry Taskforce Matt Warnken says that price is achievable over the next five or so years.

Mr Taylor hopes soil carbon will eventually result in 90 million tonnes of emissions captured from the air into soil through plants.

Mr Warnken says that could occur over the next 10 years, describing soil carbon as regenerative agriculture.

“Regenerative is to agriculture as what renewables is to energy, it’s probably about 20 years behind.”

“I think we’ll see a very similar trajectory as what we’re seeing in the renewables space.”


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