International Environmental Trust backs Australian Soil Carbon System

Wednesday 8 May 2019

The Grantham Environmental Trust has invested in AgriProve an Australian agricultural startup to commercialise soil carbon solutions that improve agricultural productivity while sequestering carbon and mitigating climate change. The deal between the Grantham Trust's Neglected Climate Opportunities program and the innovative Australian company will be worth AU$2.5 million when fully exercised as part of an initial seeding round of investment.

The announcement will be made by Matthew Warnken Managing Director of AgriProve, at the 6th Australasian Emissions Reduction Summit 2019 in Melbourne 8&9 May. "The investment from the Grantham Trust is a recognition of the global potential of soil carbon as a means of reversing global warming, and a vote of confidence in the potential for AgriProve to provide a commercial model for building soil carbon at scale", Mr Warnken said.

The US based Grantham Environmental Trust, founded by Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham, is a major funder of initiatives to reverse climate change. "Soil carbon is the largest terrestrial sink of greenhouse gas emissions with enormous potential for mitigating climate change", said Eric Smith, Investment Officer for the Grantham Environmental Trust. "We are investing to see how quickly AgriProve can scale the soil carbon solution in Australia as success here will help advance adoption throughout the rest of the world."

AgriProve is a special purpose vehicle set up to mainstream soil carbon farming and is a spinoff of leading Australian carbon abatement contractor Corporate Carbon.

In mid-March Australia's first soil carbon credits were issued under the federal government's AU$2.55 billion Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) for AgriProve's flagship project in eastern Victoria. They were also the first soil carbon credits globally to be eligible under a national target in accordance with The Paris Agreement.

Funds from the investment will be used to support the deployment of farmer led initiatives to fast track soil carbon project registrations, roll out the AgriProve Soilkee System and mainstream soil carbon as a pathway to agricultural productivity and improved water management.

Australia has unique conditions in which to hothouse the commercialisation of soil carbon developments and large scale carbon abatement. It is the only nation to have a measurement based methodology that covers all forms of agriculture under a government based regulatory framework. This is coupled with a government backed market for the resulting carbon credits via the ERF.

Australia accounts for half of all measurement based soil carbon projects globally and this leadership position is due in large part to bipartisan support for carbon farming domestically. The Neglected Climate Opportunities investment in AgriProve will help build Australia as a test case for the development of soil carbon farming at scale which can then be adopted internationally.

Media contact: Alexandra de Blas M: 0414 509 404 E: alexandra@deblas.com.au
See soil carbon video, HD B-roll video available, still images available

Matthew Warnken will speak during Plenary Seven Taking Climate Action Thursday 11.35 am at the 6th Australasian Emissions Reduction Summit 2019, Future Proofing the Australian Economy, 8&9 May, MCG Melbourne Australia. Media interviews are available earlier.

The Upper Metre of the World's Soils contains three times more carbon than the world's vegetation and almost twice the levels in the atmosphere. Even proportionally small changes in the amount of soil carbon could have large effects on the carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in the atmosphere thus slowing or reversing the rate of global warming.

Increasing Global Soil Carbon Stocks as an approach to mitigate climate change is gaining worldwide attention, as demonstrated by the 4 per 1000 initiative launched at the COP21 in Paris in 2015. If soil carbon levels were increased by 0.4% per year, in the top 30-40 cm of soils, the annual increase in CO2 in the atmosphere would be stopped.

Soil Organic Carbon is directly related to agricultural productivity – the higher the soil carbon levels, the greater the productivity. This is a function of soil carbon improving water holding capacity and nutrient availability for soils, in addition to improving conditions for soil biological activity. When water and rainfall are used more effectively growing seasons extend and farms become more drought tolerant.

The Soilkee Pasture Renovator provides an elegant solution to pasture cropping that combines cultivation, mulching, aeration and mixed species seeding to grow better quality feed while building soil carbon. This 'salad mix' approach provides balanced nutrition, feed diversity, organic matter and nitrogen from legume nodulation. Seeding annual crops into perennial pasture improves soil health by promoting beneficial bacteria, fungi and worms.

Additional Farmer Benefits: Sowing annuals into perennial pastures covers the summer and winter feed gap – giving the herd feed when pastures aren't growing. The annual crops generate about a 30 per cent increase in dry matter yields. Using the Soilkee System results in reduced inputs of greenhouse gas emitting nitrogenous fertiliser (nitrous oxide has a very high global warming potential).

Corporate Carbon Advisory, led by Managing Director Matthew Warnken, is Australia's largest multi-sector carbon contractor with over 40 million tonnes of abatement contracted under the AU$2.55 billion Emissions Reduction Fund. In 2018 having seen the transformative potential of soil carbon and the Soilkee technology, Corporate Carbon established AgriProve – an agricultural startup – as a vehicle to mainstream soil carbon farming.

Soilkee: Niels Olsen initially developed the Soilkee Renovator as a means to regenerate degraded land on his own farm in Gippsland, Victoria. He now markets the technology to farmers and contractors helping them to maximise their soil carbon and agricultural productivity.

Broader regenerative remit: Soil organic carbon is in effect a scorecard for regenerative farming practices. The broader remit beyond carbon is to commercialise regenerative practices to enable producers to access a premium supply chain while the public gains access to more nutritious food and a regenerating environment.

Australian Carbon Farming Forecasts: The Carbon Farming Industry Roadmap forecasts that by 2030 the industry could deliver up to 21,000 jobs and $24 billion to regional and national economies.

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International Environmental Trust backs Australian Soil Carbon System
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