Soil Carbon Workshop Buzz

The WA Future Food Producer Group partnered with Regen WA to host a Soil Carbon Workshop and Field Walk in Benger on July 19, bringing together farmers and industry stakeholders to discuss and explore the latest in practical, on-ground methods to measure and improve soil carbon.

C-Wise Director Andy Gulliver presented an overview on soil health and how carbon can improve plant growth and biodiversity. He raised the important point that there needs to be a balance between social, economic and natural capital. He also gave a second presentation on how compost can improve soil health and productivity and the work his team at C-Wise is doing to allow compost to be used on both small- and large-scale farmers.

Bonnie Jupp, RegenWA Program Manager at Perth NRM, shared insights into the process of measuring natural capital on farm, taking the group through the Rapid Soil Testing protocols being developed to allow farmers to assess soil function indicators without having to pay for official testing.

“Natural Capital Accounting is an exciting space,” Jupp said. “It is interesting to have conversations with farmers about how their farm management practices influence the quality and value of their natural assets – soil, water, plants and animals – and how that improves overall farm performance.”

The next presentation was from Dan Hester, Director at Pedaga Investments, concerning a Soil Carbon Project being delivered with Meat and Livestock Australia, comparing the efficacy of biomineral and synthetic fertilisers in improving carbon sequestration rates.

“There has been a lot of talk about biomineral fertilisers over the last few years and what we want to get is actual data to see if soil carbon improves over the 3 years,” Hester said. “We are also keeping track of production and profit levels, so we can see if there is any difference between the biomineral regime when compared to a conventional fertiliser regime.”

Axis Tech Managing Director Wes Lawrence discussed the Federal Government’s Soil Data Payments Program, where farmers can be paid for sharing historical soil data. Axis Tech has also partnered with Sensor C to develop a new soil carbon probe that can take in-ground, on-demand measurements of soil organic carbon, moisture and bulk density. Wes brought one of the probes along to showcase this new technology, which is Australian owned and manufactured.

Local farmer Blythe Calnan shared the on-farm measures implemented to build up soil carbon at Runnymede Farm in Uduc. Blythe and Gregg have a total of 500 acres of land and currently run 400 chickens, producing pastured eggs, and 400 head of grass-fed beef. They have been focused on creating a regenerative farming system, which includes managing grazing, spreading compost tea from worm castings, foliar applications of fertiliser and recognising the role of all the livestock on her farm – the cows above the ground but also the important livestock below the ground.

Hannah Lalor, CEO of Food Future Network, said the event had fulfilled its promise of connecting and sharing for the benefit of all.

“It was wonderful to see the engagement between farmers and our invited guests at morning tea and lunch and the interest in the new technology and projects that are happening in our state,” Lalor said.

“It is clear that events like these are so important to bring people together, which will lead to stronger communities and further sharing of our challenges, ideas and opportunities in this sustainable farming space.”

If you would like to access information about future projects and events like this one, sign up to the WA Future Food Producer Group for free at:

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Participants enjoying the sunshine whilst discussions on trials, monitoring equipment and soil health testing continued.