Soil Carbon Project

This project is supported by funding from the Australian Government Department – Action on the Ground program.

MFS secured funding ($276,989) through the Dept. Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry (DAFF) “Action on the Ground” Program for a three year Project to measure soil carbon under different land use systems.

The following systems are being compared in terms of soil carbon levels and potential changes, nutrient profiles, grazing practices and gross margins;

  • Pine plantation versus improved pasture versus cropping – Delegate Station
  • Cropping versus native pasture – Delegate Station & Corrowong
  • High fertiliser native pasture versus low fertiliser native pasture – Idaho, Bungarby
  • Limed improved pasture versus un-limed – Springvale, Mila
  • Aspect, west versus east facing slope –– Quinburra, Craigie
  • Pasture Age, 40yr old versus 5yr old phalaris pasture – Sth Bukalong, Bombala

Variograms at five of the sites will also be done which will measure spatial variation of carbon across a paddock demonstrating the inconsistency and unpredictability of soil carbon levels within a small sampling area.

Weather stations have been installed at the aspect sites (east and west slope) and a third site to measure differences in Max and Min temp., daily rainfall totals, relative humidity, and solar radiation (Wm2), wind speed & direction, soil moisture and temperature.

Questions the project will address

  • How does land management affect carbon stocks in the Monaro region?
  •     Does minimum disturbance cropping influence carbon stocks over a 3 year period?
  •     What is the effect of “parent material” ie. shale, deep granite and basalt (ascending texture, fertility and structure) on carbon stocks in the Monaro region?
  •     What influence does “aspect” have on carbon stocks in a system with optimum sequestration potential ie. fertilised, permanent, perennial pasture system?
  •     Does liming improved pasture increase C sequestration?
  •     What effect does soil fertility have on C stocks in the Monaro region? Support current research work that suggests fertility has a significant effect on C sequestration potential of soils.
  •     What effect does pasture age have on the potential of a phalaris perennial pasture to sequester carbon, does age create a “ceiling” on sequestration potentials?

Project Objectives

  • develop soil carbon data base
  • compare the influence of soil type, rainfall and land management on carbon stocks
  • assess spatial carbon variation at a paddock scale for three soil types
  • model changes in soil carbon pool structure for both the lifetime of the project (3 years) and predictions over much longer time frames using the Roth C model for all land use systems being compared
  • model soil carbon profiles and predicted pasture systems under all land-use comparisons using GrassGro® software
  • develop fact sheet on project outcomes and co-author peer reviewed paper for publication
  • host field day with key speakers