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Why Carbon Flows with Alan Lauder

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Ongoing stable methane emissions from cattle doesn’t change the climate

Could it be that a lot of cattle producers world-wide are being unfairly blamed for progressing climate change because of the methane released by their cattle? Going one step further, this article will suggest that the methane emissions of the Australian sheep and cattle industry are not changing the climate, because they have been stable since the 1970’s. Cows up to speed on climate change We have to ask the question, is the current way of comparing methane and carbon dioxide, using the Global Warming Potential (GWP) approach, the best way to assess the outcome of the methane produced by ruminant animals like sheep and cattle? I raise the point, keeping ....

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Carbon levels influence rainfall

If you are lucky enough to catch those first summer storms, subsequent storms will often follow the same track. The first storm changes the ground cover (carbon levels) relative to surrounding areas, as well as increases soil moisture. Weather and land are inseparable and interrelate with each other. Bare soil provides a different energy response to covered soil My initial interest in this subject was stimulated by a discussion I had with Robert (Bob) Leighton over tea one night. I sought his opinion, as one of Australia’s leading meteorologists, on why storms often follow where previous storms went. Often one property or part of a property would remain dry, ....

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Drought in perspective

Have you ever thought of drought in the context of carbon balances?  Graziers run a carbon business, and they are out of business, when animals consume the last of the carbon residing above ground. A producer’s day job is recycling carbon and then selling carbon based products, be it meat or fibre.   Who does drought visit and when?  Droughts are the climax of a dry spell, however the arrival of drought is determined by more than just lead up rain. The timing comes down to the ability of paddocks to generate some carbon flows from any isolated small falls of rain to postpone drought. This ....

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The carbon grazing principle relates to managing carbon flows

The principle has as its basis, that effective pasture rest is achieved when enough carbon has flowed above and below ground to all the areas it needs to. The level of carbon that flows through a paddock determines plant and soil resilience AND the amount of ground cover for livestock production. Likewise, environmental outcomes, such as water quality, rely on good management of carbon flows. Dr. John Williams, former head of CSIRO Land and Water, launched "Carbon Grazing - The Missing Link" in November 2008 Carbon Grazing is a principle and just that, not a new land management system. It underpins all successful land ....

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Methane is the carbon atom taking a detour

The methane debate is one of subtleties, with the true issue being the production of methane per kg of production. We have to go back to the start to understand where methane fits in. Carbon atoms come down from the atmosphere into the paddock and then head off in all different directions. Some find their way back to the atmosphere quickly and some slowly. One path of the carbon atoms is into sheep and cattle. ....

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Small changes can make a big difference

Discussing management of carbon flows relates to both economic outcomes and environmental outcomes. This week is all about economics.   If I asked an average sheep or cattle producer if they could double their profit, I would be laughed at. However, if I asked could you increase production by 9%, I would get a hearing. The interesting thing is that they are both the same thing in a marginal industry. Why is this so? The table below explains why. How a ....

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Why short term removal of animals after rain rests all plants

Plants are not all thinking the same in terms of their end goal with pasture rest. However, the one thing they all have in common is the need to bring in plenty of carbon. What animals chose to eat and when, has to be considered when implementing resting programs. While perennial plants initially concentrate on growing new leaves after rain, they are very focused on using incoming carbon to replenish their energy reserves and build an extensive root system. This ensures they are always in the position to produce leaves above ground for carbon collection. For annuals, the goal is to ....

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Is pasture rest TIME or TIMING

The question has to be asked, what are we really trying to achieve with pasture rest? The answer: Achieving the flow of carbon to all the parts of the paddock that it needs to flow into, above and below ground. Animals will reduce the flow of carbon if not managed properly.  Some see pasture rest as an exercise in growing more pasture for sheep and cattle to eat. While this is an important outcome, there is more to it than this. What pasture rest sets out to achieve There is an element of the present and the future with pasture rest. The present is growing more feed for sheep and cattle to eat, remembering ....