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Why Carbon Flows with Alan Lauder

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The two different processes plants use to generate carbon flows

Did you know that there are two different systems of photosynthesis used by plants? One is called the C3 pathway and the other is called the C4 pathway. The main difference between these two systems is the compounds used in turning carbon dioxide into starch and sugar. Plants using the C3 pathway rely on the enzyme, rubisco, to fix carbon atoms from carbon dioxide in the air. The first stable product in this process is based on three carbon atoms, hence it’s called the C3 pathway.  Plants using the C4 pathway use the enzyme, PEP carboxylase, to fix carbon from atmospheric carbon dioxide during photosynthesis. The first stable product ....

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Plants don't just sit there and take it

Plants may not be able to move around but that doesn’t mean they have no control over their destiny. They have an amazing array of strategies for surviving and improving their environment. We need a feed and a drink and so do plants. Apart from the carbon in the atmosphere being a food source for them, plants get the other things they need from the soil. Plants are the ultimate networkers. They send chemical instructions via root exudates to soil microbes, to get them to do what they need done.  Root exudates: what they are & what they do Not all the carbon from photosynthesis is used in the construction of leaves, stems ....

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What really is paddock resilience

The traditional definition of resilience is a paddock that is functional and able to withstand adverse conditions. For those seeking tangible evidence of when resilience exists, it is the ability of a paddock to generate carbon flows from rain i.e. how well the pasture responds to rain. Perhaps the best test of resilience is the ability of paddocks to respond to isolated small falls of rain during a dry period. A paddock that has the capacity to successfully produce carbon flows is one that is also well equipped to better withstand extreme events, be they drought, heat or heavy rain.    Linking resilience to different paddock responses to rain  The ....

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Some of the main points raised in 2017

A few years ago, while traveling in rural Queensland, I met an interesting woman in the Blackall newsagency. During the course of conversation she commented, “The expensive dieting programs in the city are a total waste of money. All you have to do is keep your mouth shut and move”. This woman was a clear thinker who was focused on getting back to basics. Likewise, producers who focus on good management of carbon flows, understand that this is one of the basics you have to get right. If you get the basics wrong, nothing else will fall into place the way they should. Carbon flows are the most ....

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Edible shrubs supply more reliable carbon flows

When carbon moves around a grazing paddock, above and below ground, nitrogen goes for the ride. The amount of nitrogen partnering carbon at any point in time is known as the carbon:nitrogen ratio. The issue for producers is that nitrogen sometimes chooses to part company with carbon before it moves into sheep and cattle. This happens as grass matures and dries out. Pasture connoiseurs know what they are looking for in a good balanced meal. However, this is not a problem with edible shrubs such as old man saltbush or fodder trees like leucaena. Their nitrogen (protein) content over summer is much more constant because they have the ability to remain green. ....

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Financial analogy

Short term carbon is the fast moving carbon and long term carbon is the slow moving carbon. To put fast and slow moving carbon into a commercial analogy, think of cash flows versus capital. Cash flows keep you in business, just like the fast moving carbon that keeps you in business too. Think of the slow moving carbon as really part of your capital base, just like cattle yards and buildings. The cash flow aspect The fast moving short term carbon makes money for you because it feeds all the life in the soil that keeps the soil productive AND feeds sheep and cattle. Remember cattle are 18% carbon, ....

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The structural role of flowing carbon

Everybody knows the presence of carbon is important for soil structure, however, it also has a structural role. This comes back to carbon being the main building block of pastures. By structural role, I mean the way paddocks are more water efficient and have increased capacity to capture resources when plants are physically present. Root response to different grazing pressure The wick effect Carbon has a structural role as part of plant the roots. Roots, which are 45% carbon, act as “wicks” to take water down through the soil profile, especially important with harder soils. This is achieved by water travelling down beside roots. Better managed plants, with more extensive root systems, distribute ....

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Speeding up the faster moving carbon for increased profit and reduced methane

Have you ever thought about why cows digest leaves faster than stems or why a leaf breaks down faster in the soil than a stem. Well actually, cows do not digest leaves/stems, nor does the soil break down leaves/stems. In the case of cows, it is the microbes in the rumen (first stomach) that consume what they can of what the cow has swallowed. The cow then digests the microbes as their food source In the soil, it is microbes, such as bacteria and fungi that have the first snack on organic matter, eating what they can. Other soil life such as protozoa and nematodes then consume the microbes as ....