Rangelands NRM Blog, News & Resources

Meka Station carbon sampling to aid future estimates

[June 2013]

Sampling for soil- and vegetation-hosted carbon of a trial area on Meka Station was completed in May/June with over 700 bags of vegetation and 150 soil cores collected for laboratory analysis.

The data which this work will generate, will allow carbon stocks for the area to be calculated and the effect of the grazing trial on carbon sequestration to be properly estimated in the future. The work is also testing the effectiveness of field techniques.

Senior rangeland scientist, Dr Peter Russell said sampling of the Yanganoo and Belele land systems for soil- and vegetation-hosted carbon was undertaken within and outside of the Total Grazing Control Trial being implemented by the Yalgoo Producer Group.

The trial paddock is 10,000 hectares in size and has an electrified bio-security fence to exclude kangaroos, goats and wild dogs.

“Many plant morphological measurements were made, 30 Landscape Function Analysis (LFA) transects completed, and 700 bags of vegetation and 150 soil cores were collected from 30 plots for laboratory analysis by an enthusiastic team of 11 people over 11 full field days,” Dr Russell said.

During the course of the field work, a Field Demonstration Day coordinated by Neil Grinham, was held on Thursday 30 May in conjunction with the Yalgoo Producer Group.

Visiting pastoralists inspected the Total Grazing Control Trial electric perimeter fencing (19 Mile Paddock) and the carbon sampling in progress.  An explanation of why the grazing trial and the land system carbon characterisation work are important projects was provided, along with some information about previous carbon sampling at Muggon station (2012) and at Yalleen station (2011).

Dr Russell said the project builds on the knowledge of sequestered carbon in the WA rangelands acquired by earlier carbon projects in the Kimberley (2009-10), Pilbara (2011) and northern Murchison (2012), as part of a continuing effort to acquire essential data about above-ground and below-ground carbon concentrations and stocks in various land systems.

“This land system data, termed characterisation data, underpins important aspects of the carbon abatement story,” he said.

For example, it is vital for calibrating computer simulation models endeavouring to predict rates of carbon sequestration through time under particular management scenarios.

“In turn, modelled outputs can then be used in business models to determine financial viability of potential Carbon Credit Projects under the Federal Carbon Farming Initiative,” Dr Russell said.

Meka pastoral station is located in the Murchison region approximately 270 km northeast of Geraldton and approximately 130 km northwest of Mt Magnet, and is managed by Bob Grinham and Trish Peat. The project area lies approximately 25 km east of Meka homestead, just north of the Sanford River.

The Meka Carbon Demonstration Project is funded by Royalties for Regions supplemented by in-kind contributions from the ChemCentre (WA Government Laboratory) and participating pastoralists, and is part of the broader Carbon Farming Awareness Programme, managed jointly by the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) and Rangelands NRM WA.

1) David Blood (left) and Jess Bibby sampling a felled tree (Acacia tetragonophylla). Whole plants are divided into living stem, dead stem and canopy, weighed and sub-samples sent to the laboratory for carbon analysis. © Peter Russell
2) The Meka carbon sampling team ‘ May-June 2013. Back row (l to r): Adrian Williams, David Blood, Jess Bibby, Luce Dulau, Katie Shaw-Brown, Philip Tinker, George Woolston and Peter Russell; Front row (l to r): Jane Bradley, Ostiane Massiani and Tim Wiley. © David Blood