Agriculture's big role in sucking up our carbon

One of the country’s foremost experts on genetics, plant biology and now studying soils, Professor Justin Borevitz from the ANU’s School of Biology, says Australia can take a leading international role in sequestering carbon, and farmers can play a big part.

In the latest interview in the Soils For Life video series, Professor Borevitz says Australia can “ first - stop digging. However we suck almost as much carbon out of the air as we have dug up to clean up our mess. It’s in the order of giga tonnes. We can smash it, no problem”.

“If we were to invest and integrate our agro-ecological systems in this country we could do wonderful things for the world. International governments like Japan and Korea and ultimately China, they’ll be looking for places to put carbon and we have a beautiful carbon bank in this country that’s not been filled in a long time, especially under our agricultural soil, so we really can go for this”.

Professor Borevitz, who is also a Board Member of Soils For Life, says “soil carbon is a huge stock – there’s more carbon in the soils of the world than the atmosphere – at least two times more – and four times more than all the plants in the world”.

“We need to join forces with our colleagues that are restoring ecosystems and restore agro-ecosystems for the above ground part, which is the capture part with plants. Importantly now we’re starting to recognise that soil carbon in the roots and the carbon in the soil is a store, both below agricultural soils and ecological soils. They can work together to be a sink”.

“So we can regenerate agriculture, restore ecosystems, store carbon, and provide resilience for food security, environmental security and climate security”.

Professor Borevitz says farmers have the opportunity to not only sequester carbon in their soils but they also have the best locations – their farms – to generate renewable energy.

“We can put up wind turbines and we can do solar and we can store that energy with small water cycles – pumped hydro. We need to get our water systems re-organised so the land systems and the solar systems drive the biological system. So it’s all part of integrating renewable, regenerative, restorative and resilient ecosystems”.

See the interview with Professor Borevitz here.