Perth: Scientists at the Curtin University have developed a new online tool that would allow farmers to monitor their greenhouse gas emissions and virtually test ways to reduce carbon pollution. The software calculates a farmer’s carbon footprint by analysing production data – such as fertiliser, insecticide and machinery use – against detailed satellite imagery of the land.
Australia’s agricultural and livestock industries are the nation’s largest emitters of global warming greenhouse gases methane and nitrous oxide. The federal government plans to axe a tax on carbon and bring forward the launch of an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to 2014. Curtin University environmental scientist and lead study author Deborah Engelbrecht and her team worked with the Western Australia Department of Agriculture to study 24 paddocks in the Wheat belt and found that fertilisers were one of the biggest producers of greenhouse gasses on those lands. “This is the first time that remote sensing, Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and life cycle assessment systems have been integrated into one tool,” said Engelbrecht. The tool will give farmers the ability to input local and imported fertilisers into the system to quickly and easily see which brands work better to reduce their carbon footprint.