Farmers Look to Embrace Clean Energy Future

AUSTRALIA - Australia's agriculture sector is embracing a clean energy future with more than 500 applications received from universities, land managers, industry and government agencies for Gillard Government funding to test and develop new ways for farmers to reduce carbon emissions.
calendar icon 15 February 2012
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In a Senate Estimates hearing today the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry confirmed the government had received at least 240 applications for the first round of the A$99 million Action on the Ground program under the Carbon Farming Futures Fund.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Joe Ludwig, said a further 235 applications had been received for the first round $201 million Filling the Research Gap program, also part of the Carbon Farming Futures Fund which is a key component of the Clean Energy Future plan.

"The Action on the Ground and Filling the Research Gap programs provide funding for research into on-farm practices and new technologies," Minister Ludwig said.

"The level of interest in these programs shows how keen the agriculture sector is to benefit from the opportunities in the land sector to cut carbon pollution.

"Agricultural emissions will be excluded under a carbon price mechanism, but farmers also have the opportunity to earn extra income by sequestering carbon or reducing emissions like nitrous oxide and methane.

"Part of the government's $1.7 billion investment in the land sector is new research and on-farm demonstrations. These activities will help the agriculture sector unlock the economic and productivity benefits of reducing emissions, and protect the environment."

The $99 million Action on the Ground Program helps industry and farming groups test and apply research outcomes in real farming situations. Applications include proposals to demonstrate practices in the livestock, dairy, viniculture, cropping and poultry industries to undertake on-farm projects.

The $201 million Filling the Research Gap Program funds research into new technologies and practices for land managers to reduce emissions and store soil carbon. Applications cover reducing methane emissions, reducing nitrous oxide emissions, increasing soil carbon and improving modelling capability.

Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Mark Dreyfus said further applications had been received for biochar research, which is part of the Carbon Farming Initiative.

"The $2 million Biochar Capacity Building Program, which supports research into how biochar and integrated biochar systems can be used in Australia to mitigate emissions, has received 29 applications," Mr Dreyfus said.

The research proposals are undergoing assessment and will be ranked by merit.

Charlotte Johnson

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