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Landcare Australia: Landcare for everyone


Published by the Australian Greenhouse Office, in the Department of the Environment and Heritage. © Commonwealth of Australia 2005 Information contained in this publication may be copied or reproduced for study, research, information or educational purposes, subject to inclusion of an acknowledgment of the source, and is not for the putpose of commerical usage or sale. Reproduction for purposes other than those listed above requires the written permission of the Australian Greenhouse Office, Department of Environment and Heritage. Requests and enquiries concerning reproduction and rights should be addressed to: The Communications Director Australian Greenhouse Office Department of the Environment and Heritage GPO Box 787, Canberra ACT 2601 Email: communications@greenhouse.gov.au ISBN: 1921120037 This booklet is available electronically at www.greenhouse.gov.au Copies of this booklet may be obtained by phoning 1300 130 606 IMPORTANT NOTICE – PLEASE READ This document is produced for general information only and does not represent a statement of the policy of the Australian Government. The Australian Government and all persons acting for the Government preparing this report accept no liability for the accuracy of or inferences from the material contained in this publication, or for any action as a result of any person’s or group’s interpretations, deductions, conclusions or actions in relying on this material. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that the contents of this publication are factually correct, the Commonwealth does not accept responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the contents, and shall not be liable for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the contents of this publication. AUTHORS: Guy Knox Martin Harris Anthony McGregor David Ugalde Bill Slattery Melanie Kaebernick Paul Ryan Design: Swell Design Group Photograph credits: Arthur Mostead, istockphoto.com, stockbyte Printing by: Paragon Printers


Landcare Australia: Meeting the Greenhouse Challenge


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Contents Foreword . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 The Importance of Greenhouse . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Landcare Greenhouse Challenge . . . . . . . . . . . 8 A little bit about us . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 A message to you . . . . . . . . . . . . 18

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FOREWORD: Landcare Australia plays a valuable role in promoting sustainable land management across the country. It helps to harness Australian farmers’ commitment to caring for the environment, and to translate this commitment into practical action. The organization also provides an effective channel of communication between its members, industry bodies, researchers and governments. Landcare Australia has been a leading participant in the Australian Government’s Greenhouse Challenge Plus programme. Its involvement has helped land managers to become aware of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, and of the actions that can be taken to reduce them. Collaboration with industry is an essential part of the Australian Government’s climate change agenda. Only in this way will we be able to maximise opportunities to achieve win-win outcomes for both national and industry benefit. Landcare Australia’s involvement in Greenhouse Challenge Plus has provided a way for the Australian Government and Landcare groups to work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while increasing the sustainability and productivity of Australian agriculture.

knowledge and to inform priorities in research and development programmes. I would like to express my gratitude to participants in the Landcare Greenhouse Challenge, and encourage others to follow the examples they have set. Their achievements demonstrate that improving the efficiency of farming operations can result in multiple benefits. Reductions in greenhouse gas emissions can be achieved alongside improved farm productivity and profitability, and enhanced environmental sustainability. It is with great pleasure that I present Landcare Australia: Meeting the Greenhouse Challenge.

Cost-effective action to reduce emissions Senator the Hon. Ian Campell from agriculture is a key part of national efforts to address climate change. MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT & The Landcare Greenhouse Challenge HERITAGE program is an excellent example of Landcare farmers’ initiative in this regard. The efforts of Landcare members have also helped to identify gaps in current Landcare Australia Landcare for everyone | 6 5 | Landcare Australia Landcare for everyone


The Importance of Greenhouse To Landcare Members What is the greenhouse effect? The greenhouse effect is a natural part of the earth’s climate. Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, including water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, trap heat from the sun. This maintains the earth’s surface temperature at a level that supports plant and animal ecosystems (Figure 1).

Figure 1. The Greenhouse Effect

Human activities have dramatically increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere over the past 200 years (Figure 2). The burning of fossil fuels, agriculture and land-use changes have been major sources of greenhouse gas emissions during this time.

Landcare Landcare for everyone | 7 Figure 2. Atmospheric concentrations of Australia carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide over 1000 years. Landcare Australia Landcare for everyone | 6


Increased greenhouse gas concentrations have resulted in more of the sun’s heat being trapped in the atmosphere, resulting in what is known as the enhanced greenhouse effect. This has been linked to increasing global temperatures (Figure 3), as well as other changes in the climate system.

Projected changes to Australia’s climate Temperatures

Average annual temperatures in Australia are expected to rise as a result of the enhanced greenhouse effect. Regionally, slightly less warming is expected in some coastal areas and Tasmania, with slightly more warming in the north-west of Australia. This trend is projected to lead to an increase in the number of extreme hot days, with fewer extreme cold days.

Rainfall and evaporation

Figure 3. Variations of the earth’s surface temperature over the past 145 years. Forecast changes in climate over the coming decades are of particular interest to Australian farmers. Agricultural productivity, profitability and sustainability are exposed to changes in temperature, rainfall, evaporation and extreme weather events. Climatic changes in agricultural regions overseas may also affect markets for Australian produce.

“Increased concentration of greenhouse gases have been linked with changes Landcare Australia Landcare for everyone | 8 in the climate system” 7 | Landcare Australia Landcare for everyone

Annual average rainfall is projected to decrease in south-west Australia and parts of south-east Australia and Queensland, with little change in the tropical north. Decreases in rainfall are expected to be most pronounced in winter and spring. An overall drying trend is expected due to the combination of decreased rainfall and increased evaporation.

Weather extremes

Climate change may increase the effects of the El Nino Southern Oscillations (ENSO) on Australia’s climate. The risk of prolonged dry spells may increase, as may the frequency of extreme weather events such as cyclones and severe storms. For further information on projected impacts of climate change in Australia visit www.greenhouse.gov.au/ impacts.


The Landcare Greenhouse Challenge In 2001, Landcare Australia and the Australian Greenhouse Office formed a partnership to create the Landcare Greenhouse Challenge. This programme included a series of workshops and information kits that assisted Landcare farmers to identify on-farm sources of greenhouse gases, and implement action plans to reduce these emissions.

THE GREENHOUSE CHALLENGE PLUS PROGRAMME The Greenhouse Challenge was established in 1995 as a voluntary initiative between the Australian Government and industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In 2004 the programme was re-launched as Greenhouse Challenge Plus. Building on the success of the original programme, Greenhouse Challenge Plus also incorporates a number of new elements aimed at assisting businesses in the agriculture sector to become involved. These include a new, agriculture-specific online reporting framework, as well as information on opportunities to reduce greenhouse emissions in land-based industries. Participating companies of Greenhouse Challenge Plus enter into Cooperative Agreements with the Australian

Government. These agreements provide a framework for undertaking and reporting actions to reduce emissions. As part of this process, participants prepare greenhouse gas inventories in order to

“Government and industry working together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions� identify opportunities for cost-effective abatement. They then develop action plans designed to reduce emissions while also cutting costs and providing other environmental benefits. Members of Greenhouse Challenge Plus may also increase market opportunities by demonstrating their commitment to the environment. Further information on Greenhouse Challenge Plus is available at www. greenhouse.gov.au/challenge.

Workshops The early stages of the Landcare Greenhouse Challenge programme revolved around a series of workshops. Landcare groups coordinated a total of twenty sessions around Australia and arranged for participating members, Landcare facilitators and Government Landcare Australia Landcare for everyone | 9 advisors to attend. Landcare Australia Landcare for everyone | 8


These workshops provided an introduction to climate change science and to greenhouse issues for the agriculture sector. They also provided a forum for land managers, representatives of Landcare Australia, and the Australian Government to discuss practical and costeffective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from farms. Government representatives were given the opportunity to gain a better understanding of Landcare farming principles, and to discuss ways of integrating greenhouse issues into the approaches taken by Landcare members.

Recruitment

actions developed were widely applicable within the Australian agriculture sector. The main industries represented were beef, sheep, wool, dairy and broadacre cropping.

Planning and implementation Based on information provided by members at the workshops, Landcare Australia developed an individual emissions assessment for each farmer. These provided an indication of likely sources of on-farm greenhouse gas emissions. These initial surveys demonstrated a wide variation in greenhouse gas emissions between the farming systems studied. This variation indicated broad scope for taking action to reduce emissions while enhancing productivity.

Landcare Australia recruited 120 farmers from 40 Landcare groups across the country to take part in the Landcare Greenhouse Challenge programme. Participants were selected from a wide variety of farming practices and Participants were also provided with geographic locations. This broad range of | 10 Landcare Australia Landcare for everyone Action Plan Toolkits. These presented farming systems was chosen to ensure the the latest information on greenhouse 9 | Landcare Australia Landcare for everyone


“Land managers can take cost-effective action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions”

With this in mind, Landcare farmers identified four key areas of their operations where cost effective action could be taken to reduce emissions while improving productivity and sustainability:

emissions and abatement opportunities under four headings: Cropping, Grazing, Energy, and Vegetation. The kits also included an action planning sheet to assist farmers to map out how they could reduce greenhouse emissions from their operations.

1. Livestock Management

Using this information, participants examined their cropping and grazing practices, vegetation management, and energy use in order to identify areas where costeffective emissions reductions might be made. They then developed action plans to take advantage of these opportunities, and implemented these plans over time.

Farm management for multiple benefits

Methane emissions from livestock represent a loss of feed energy. The quantity of methane emitted per unit of produce (eg. a prime lamb or a litre of milk) is influenced by the length of time livestock need to spend grazing in order to meet production targets. Management practices that improve feed use efficiency, including minimising the amount of energy lost as methane, will reduce the number of grazing days required, providing both production and greenhouse benefits.

Participants in the Landcare Greenhouse Challenge demonstrated that land managers can take cost-effective action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with production and environmental benefits as 2. Nitrogen Management well. This was summed up by Nevin Olm, who explained: The application of nitrogen fertilizers is the major driver of nitrous oxide “Better business management tends emissions in Australia. Taking action to to result in reduced greenhouse improve the efficiency with which plants emissions. Greenhouse actions generally use applied nitrogen can therefore lower complement economic considerations, greenhouse gas emissions, as well as as they involve improved farm efficiency reducing nitrogen losses through other and productivity and therefore mean processes such as leaching and runoff. improvements to farmers’ bottom lines.” Landcare Australia Landcare for everyone | 11 Landcare Australia Landcare for everyone | 10


Landcare Greenhouse Challenge participants highlighted a number of ways to improve the efficiency of nitrogen use by crops and pastures: • Time fertilizer application to coincide with plant requirements. Management practices such as split applications can help to ensure the timing of fertilizer supply is most advantageous for crop growth.

by Landcare farmers. Water supply, aeration, the availability of nutrients and the establishment of plant roots are all dependent on good soil structure. Management practices that are likely to achieve these goals can also help to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

Excessive soil disturbance can expose soil carbon compounds to oxidation and lead to their loss as carbon dioxide. The combustion of fossil fuels to produce the • Determine additional nitrogen energy used in soil tillage also results requirements based on a consideration in emissions of carbon dioxide. The of all soil nitrogen sources, such following strategies were identified by as legumes and manure, as well as participants in the Landcare Greenhouse realistic yield goals. Soil and/or plant Challenge as being likely to produce tissue tests can be used to indicate greenhouse benefits while improving or existing nitrogen levels. maintaining soil health: • Ensure a well-balanced supply of other nutrients to assist with nitrogen use by crops. • Use application methods that place fertilizer close to plant roots (e.g. incorporation or deep placement as opposed to surface application).

3. Soil Management

• Adopt minimum till practices to help prevent the degradation of soil structure and the loss of soil organic matter, including carbon dioxide. This will also reduce emissions associated with fuel use by machinery.

The importance of maintaining healthy, Landcare Australia for everyone well-structured soilsLandcare for production and | 12 • Use green manure cropping sustainability purposes is wellunderstood techniques. 11 | Landcare Australia Landcare for everyone


• Rotate crops to help maximise soil carbon input and improve soil fertility through increased root biomass and nitrogen fixation.

waterlogging. • Select crops that are more water efficient.

• Minimise vehicle traffic to reduce soil compaction, maintain soil structure and improve water infiltration. This will also reduce carbon dioxide emissions from fuel combustion.

4. Water Management

Reducing the amount of water consumed per unit of produce is already a priority for Landcare farmers for both productivity and environmental reasons. Improving the efficiency of water use for producing crops or stockfeed can also provide greenhouse benefits. For example, reducing water use can lower carbon dioxide emissions associated with energy used for pumping. Also, avoiding waterlogging helps to avoid denitrification and therefore reduces losses of nitrogen as nitrous oxide. Actions taken by Landcare farmers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with water use included: • Monitor crop water requirements carefully and irrigate accordingly.

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• Improve drainage to avoid Landcare Australia Landcare for everyone | 12


Progress reporting A core part of the Greenhouse Challenge Plus Programme involves members submitting annual reports on their progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In many cases participants are able to show how implementing their action plans has led to improvements in productivity, and can also demonstrate reduced greenhouse impacts via an updated emissions inventory.

Challenge programme have assisted the Australian Greenhouse Office in its efforts to develop an agriculture-specific reporting framework. Feedback received from participants has also confirmed that actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on farms can generate multiple benefits.

Agriculture-based members of Greenhouse Challenge Plus face particular challenges in reporting greenhouse gas emissions. Emissions from landbased sources typically occur over large areas and are highly variable in both space and time. Many environmental

“Better business management tends to result in reduced greenhouse emissions� and management factors can combine to influence their rate of production. These characteristics mean that landbased greenhouse gases are difficult and expensive to measure and hard to accurately model at the farm scale. These factors have meant that the standard Greenhouse Challenge Plus framework for progress reporting, which was initially developed for the industrial sectors, could not be used by land-based participants to obtain accurate estimates of their greenhouse Landcare Australia Landcare forof everyone gas emissions. The experiences those | 14 involved in the Landcare Greenhouse 13 | Landcare Australia Landcare for everyone


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A little bit about us... Landcare Australia Limited is the leading not-for-profit organisation responsible for raising awareness and funding for the Landcare movement to support its role in protecting, restoring and sustaining the productivity and value of Australia’s natural environment.

• Raise community awareness of Landcare, Junior Landcare and Coastcare

These objectives have been very successfully met over the past twenty years with the awareness of the landcare logo in the general public being Landcare Australia Limited was formed measured by Roy Morgan in 2013 at 70%. by the Commonwealth Government on In the 2010/2011 financial year, $4 10 October 1989 as a private non-profit million of non-Government, company to manage the corporate funding was national public awareness raised to support and sponsorship the Landcare campaign for movement. the “Decade This enabled “protecting, restoring and of Landcare”. Landcare LAL was Australia sustaining the productivity established to provide and value of Australia’s as part of the funding to natural environment” Decade of 850 onLandcare ground to raise projects across Australia as well as awareness and corporate sponsorship for landcarers. The Landcare movement is a grass roots community of approximately 4,000 Landcare and 2,000 Coastcare volunteer groups working to protect, restore and sustain the productivity of Australia’s natural environment.

supporting initiatives to raise awareness and recognition of the great work done by farmers and volunteers.

Awareness is raised through the use of the brands by sponsors. The highest profile in recent years has been the Our objective is to: Junior Landcare logo on Landcare Australia Landcare for everyone | 16 • Raise corporate sponsorship for the the Coles reusable bags. Landcare and Coastcare movements 15 | Landcare Australia Landcare for everyone


Coastcare

undertaking environmental works along the coast before this, the term Coastcare and Coastcare groups started around the “Caring for our Coast” mid 1990s. Coastcare is, in many ways, an extension of the Landcare movement In the early 1990s, the Australian focusing on the coast. Coastcare is Government’s Resource Assessment community volunteers caring for their Commission undertook an inquiry into coast. Coastcare volunteers identify the management and use of the resources local environmental problems and work of Australia’s coastal zone. The inquiry was together to achieve practical solutions. the most comprehensive investigation There are currently 2,000 Coastcare ever undertaken into the coastal zone. groups all around the country. One of the recommendations of the Resource Assessment Commission was Coastcare and landcare groups tackle that a national coastal action program problems like dune erosion, loss of native should be established that involved all plants and animals, storm water pollution, governments, community and industry weeds and control of human access to groups with responsibility for and sensitive areas. interests in the management of coastal zone resources. The initial Coastcare program was established by the Australian Government in 1995. In 1997 the Coastcare program was rolled into the Australian Governments’ Natural Heritage Trust Clean Sea Program. While there were community groups

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Junior Landcare Junior Landcare is about encouraging young people to play an active role in ensuring the safe future of their environment.

Junior Landcare Challenges Junior Landcare Watermelon Challenge

Launched in May 1998, Junior Landcare recognises that the contribution of young people is vital if the land they are to inherit is to be in the best possible condition. Junior Landcare also encourages young people to develop Throughout Summer 2008-09 over 10,000 a sense of responsibility to the land and Junior Landcarers challenged themselves other natural resources. to grow Australia’s biggest watermelon. Landcare activities can be successfully integrated into a range of topics within the school curriculum or be part of scouts or similar youth group activities. Landcare programs organised by schools and youth groups provide a great framework for learning in outdoor ‘living classrooms’. Junior Landcare enables kids of all ages to become involved with their local landcare group and work on a range of environmental projects.

Opened to schools, groups or individuals under 16, the challenge inspired kids to think about sustainability and the environment. It taught them about local food, “food miles”, healthy eating, sustainable gardening practices and encouraged them to get off the couch and experiencing nature.

Entrants received free watermelon seeds thanks to Yates as well as a project kit with tips and expert advice for growing a whopper melon. 17 | Landcare Australia Landcare for everyone


Landcare Australia: Meeting the Greenhouse Challenge

On behalf of Landcare Australia and the Department of the Environmental and Heritage Australian Greenhouse Office, we would like to thank you for reading this brochure, we hope you have enjoyed it. We thank you for your ongoing support.

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Designed by: Zoe Bingley Words by: Landcare Australia IMAGES SOURCED ONLINE


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