Contrary to the lies being spread in the media by many in the National Party (our local member may be an exception) there are many actions that farmers can do now to act on climate. I have examined this many times in this blog (see here and here for examples). These articles are based on the truism that farmers suffer most from the effects of global warming and have the most to gain from climate action – action on both a personal and government level. Actions that can be done immediately follow.
Plant and/or protect trees. Trees are a carbon store and offer other benefits to farms in a warming planet not the least shade and protection in extreme weather. There are very few farms that do not have some unproductive corner or a fence line that can be planted or a place where a wind-break would be beneficial. Farms that are lucky enough to have a bush block should see it is well protected and maintained.
Install solar panels everywhere and electrify everything including fences, pumps, homes and sheds. Most of these installations will be depreciable. Isolated diesel pumps can be replaced with secondhand panels at low cost and no running costs. Dairies (or anywhere using large amounts heat or power) are the perfect location for large solar installations – either photovoltaic or solar thermal.
Soil carbon farming is a way of sequestering and storing carbon in the soil and getting paid for it. Already this is practiced in West Gippsland with the Soilkee process (image above). This practice generally has huge potential for drawing down large amounts of carbon in the atmosphere and creating a substantial income stream for farmers. It awaits smooth and rapid processes for measuring carbon uptake and calculating payments for this.
Plan both farm resilience and future actions. One example is the adoption of wind generators at Waubra north of Ballarat that has helped drought proof a number of farms. This example is a form of agrivoltaics (more in a later blog), a practice that involves farming and energy production existing side by side. Another would be for the adoption of feeding stock seaweed supplements to control methane output of stock. The CSIRO has developed a supplement which is about to go into commercial production.
The fact that the National Party is captive to fossil fuel interests should be making farmers very angry. Political action is the answer and can commence immediately. This will mean increased effort if you are already involved. At the very least, you can let your local member know your feelings. Consider joining or supporting Farmers for Climate Action. Make your views known in the various organisations you belong to and oppose or persuade those individuals within it who do not recognise the science of climate change. This shouldn’t be too hard to do and won’t cost you a penny. But in the end it may come down to who you and your neighbours vote for.