Farmers called to add to carbon project as researchers look to expand knowledge on how the carbon market can be utilised

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Kalgan farmer Johanna Tomlinson is encouraging farmers across the region to have their say in a new carbon farming research project.

Mrs Tomlinson, the 2019 Nuffield Scholar and owner of Clear South, is one third of the farmers research team for the CarbonCare project which aims to help farmers take advantage of the carbon market.

The project’s first step will be engaging local farmers through a survey, asking their opinions on carbon farming and sharing its potential benefits. The survey will also include businesses which buy carbon credits.

Mrs Tomlinson said the team wanted to get a sense for the extent of carbon farming in WA agriculture and identify why uptake had not be as strong as it could have been.

“It will address what we know and don’t know as an industry, and as farmers, to make an informed decision about whether carbon farming and planting for carbon offset is a tool that we can use on farms to build resilience in our businesses,” she said.

“How can farmers make the most of it?

“We are at the coalface when it comes to being able to address climate and seasonal variability, so with all the production challenges that we have, carbon planting is something that we can be looking at and what the opportunity is there.

“Farmers will act on opportunity, so have we been informed about the opportunities prior to now? Possibly not, and that is why this industry consultation is so important and the surveys will talk to farmers who are already engaged in carbon farming and those who are not, to find out why or why not, what has worked well and has not, and what support and information is lacking.”

The project is being run by the Carbon Neutral Charitable Fund with the help of a $360,500 Lotterywest grant. It will involve the creation of a new carbon footprint calculator.

Ms Tomlinson’s job will be to pull together the results and produce an industry report, before discussing the findings with stakeholders for a report.

She said it would be useful to have carbon farming opportunities made clearer so she could apply it to her practice.

“Farmers need a lot of tools in our toolbox. This is potentially another one,” she said. “Not every aspect of our landscape is productive for broadacre, high-input and high-output production, so is there an opportunity for those areas that aren’t productive from a livestock and grains point of view, to bring an income into the business?”

She urged fellow Great Southern farmers to get involved.

“If we as farmers aren’t part of the decision-making processes, we will get left behind,” she said.

“If we want carbon farming to be an opportunity, I encourage everyone to give their thoughts to shape and mould what it will be in the future.”

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