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BENEFITS: Biodiversity, Ecosystems, Net Emissions and Forestry ITemiSation of wool farms Milestone 2 report

Citation

Harrison, M and Christie, K and Drake, A and Taylor, C and Makany, K and Doran-Browne, N and Garcia, FC and Roberts, G and Reinke, H and Fletcher, K, BENEFITS: Biodiversity, Ecosystems, Net Emissions and Forestry ITemiSation of wool farms Milestone 2 report, Australian Wool Innovation Limited, University of Tasmania, 2 (2022) [Contract Report]


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Abstract

Anecdotal evidence implies a polarising dichotomy between agricultural productivity and environmental conservation, with commodity-based land-use intensification thought to diminish biodiversity on the one hand, and with environmental preservation realised at the expense of food security on the other. The Biodiversity, Ecosystems, Net Emissions and Forestry ITemiSation of wool farms ‘BENEFITS’ project aims to elicit pathways enabling both improved environmental sustainability and increased agricultural productivity. This Milestone Report outlines progress towards two deliverables. The first relates to four case study farms practicing (self-proclaimed) ‘regenerative agriculture’ and includes assessment of (1) biodiversity, (2) spatially-explicit carbon in soils and woody vegetation, (3) net whole farm greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, (4) pasture and livestock productivity, and (5) gross margins. The second deliverable was extension activities consistent with those in the Carbon Storage Partnership. Biodiversity assessments for three case study farms have been completed. Habitat condition varied from a high of 37% for one farm to < 5% for other case study farms practicing regenerative agriculture. Threatened species and biodiversity persistence were relatively high for the farm with the highest habitat condition. In contrast, the two case study farms exhibited relatively low numbers of plant species per area and biodiversity persistence. Habitat condition over three farms since the year 2000 has been relatively stable, although the number of threatened species present for one farm has declined. These natural capital indicators will be compared with corresponding metrics for the conventionally managed farms in the upcoming milestones. These results provide a compelling impetus for BENEFITS to model extent to which agroecological adaptation pathways may improve carbon sequestration and biodiversity on farm. Assessments of spatially-explicit carbon have commenced, although further iteration will be required before preliminary results are available. We have begun modelling pasture and livestock production systems; simulated outputs are being validated with farm data and farmer knowledge at the time of writing. Preliminary greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and economic assessments have been initiated, although further data retrieval is required before this work can be completed. Several extension events have been completed, including development of social media, webinars and individual farmer engagement. In the first quarter of 2023, we will begin co-development of pathways for profitably improving natural capital and reducing net farm GHG emissions with the case study farmers and other stakeholders. Future work will revolve around (1) relationships between habitat condition and extent of biodiversity with production and whole farm greenhouse gas emissions and (2) comparison of natural capital and net GHG emissions of regenerative agriculture farms with those practicing conventional agriculture.

Item Details

Item Type:Contract Report
Keywords:Biodiversity; greenhouse gas; methane; sheep; wool; life cycle; carbon; model; FullCAM' FlintPRO; soil; forestry; emissions reduction fund; livestock; cattle; farm' profit; production; plant; threatened; protected; habitat; net-zero; climate crisis
Research Division:Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences
Research Group:Agriculture, land and farm management
Research Field:Agricultural systems analysis and modelling
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Terrestrial biodiversity
UTAS Author:Harrison, M (Associate Professor Matthew Harrison)
UTAS Author:Christie, K (Dr Karen Christie)
ID Code:154518
Year Published:2022
Deposited By:TIA - Research Institute
Deposited On:2022-12-08
Last Modified:2023-01-17
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