Murdoch Uni research offers hope in climate change battle

Saltbush could play a vital role in the fight against climate change.
Saltbush could play a vital role in the fight against climate change.

NATIVE Australian shrub could play a key role in the battle to slow climate change, according to new research from Murdoch University.

A study led by Murdoch University researcher Lewis Walden has explored the amount of carbon that could be extracted from the atmosphere and stored in specially planted saltbush on farmland across Australia.

“Around 5.7 million hectares of land in Australia is unsuitable for cropping and grazing due to salinity,” he said.

“Saltbush, which is resistant to drought and very tolerant of poor soil, is commonly planted by farmers to help to rehabilitate this land.

“This plant can be used as a source of feed for livestock but we were interested in finding out its potential to be used for carbon sequestration.”

“The carbon in these systems is stored in the plants and contrary to what we set out to test, there was no increase in soil carbon storage following saltbush establishment.”

Murdoch University’s incoming Dean of Veterinary and Life Sciences, Professor Richard Harper, said the results were very promising.

“The studies found that revegetation with saltbush presents an opportunity to sequester carbon on land that has marginal value for other uses,” he said.

“Profitable options for this land are very limited and emerging carbon markets may provide a way to remove atmospheric carbon and also to improve farm productivity.”

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