The opportunities and costs of climate change mitigation on Australian grain farms
Visiting scholar Marit Kragt University of Western Australia, School of Agriculture and Environment
Seminar at Ruralis
Place: Tinget 1-2 Dragvoll Idrettsbygget 4th floor
For Australian agriculture to contribute to greenhouse gas emissions reductions, farmers will need to change their practices. In this project, we analysed the potential for Australian grain farmers to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and the costs of such abatement actions to farmers. The Agricultural Production Systems sIMulator (APSIM) was used to estimate the effects of management changes on productivity, soil carbon sequestration, nitrous oxide emissions, and net greenhouse gas emissions over time. We calculate the economic impacts on gross margins and operating profits for each of the modeled greenhouse gas abatement practices. We compare the abatement, productivity, and profitability trade-offs for cropping farms in three main Australian grain growing regions: south-west Western Australia (WA), western Victoria (VIC) and south-east Queensland (QLD).
Our results demonstrate that the biophysical potential and costs to abate GHG emissions are highly variable across regions. There are very few management changes that can abate greenhouse gas emissions and increase profitability at the same time. Most management changes that can sequester carbon or reduce emissions will come at a (significant) cost to farmers’ operating profits.
This research is important to inform the future development of effective climate change mitigation policies, which currently often use national averages in their design. Our cost analysis indicates what low emissions agricultural practices are most likely to be adopted by farmers who ultimately aim to increase their operating profits. Results are discussed with reference to Australia’s climate change policies that aim to reduce national emissions such as the Carbon Farming Initiative / Emissions Reduction Fund.
Keywords: agricultural profitability; carbon farming policy; greenhouse gas abatement
Marit Kragt is a tenured Senior Lecturer at the University of Western Australia’s School of Agriculture and Environment. She works as an agricultural and environmental economist with the Discipline Group of Agricultural & Resource Economics. In November 2015, she was awarded a prestigious Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Fellowship (DECRA) to assess public preferences for different mine closure practices.
Her particular expertise lies in environmental non-market valuation and in interdisciplinary research. Her key research interests cover economic valuation of environmental changes, climate change mitigation in agriculture, ecological restoration, and mine site rehabilitation. She is currently working on three major research projects covering these areas. Marit has a PhD degree and a Masters of Economics from the Australian National University, and a Master of Environmental Science from Wageningen University, the Netherlands. You can find her latest publications on ResearcherID D-3185-2011 or via Google Scholar.