A PUSH for farmers to offset carbon emissions through changes to soil is among next steps for a lobby group instrumental in south-west councils declaring a climate emergency.
Heytesbury District and Landcare Network co-ordinator Geoff Rollinson said a growing number of south-west farmers were considering changes to fertilisers that increased the amount of carbon kept in the ground.
"It leads to a more successful farming enterprise and less CO2 in the atmosphere, it's a beautiful equation," Mr Rollinson said.
He said the changes also increased ground water storage and soil nutrients.
Mr Rollinson said he was now pushing for the region's shire councils to encourage changes to farming practices through grant applications and advocacy, following Moyne Shire declaring a climate emergency last month.
He said the number of south-west farms using "regenerative farming practices" had jumped from a low base of 1 per cent to 5 per cent in the past four years.
The landcare group directed part of a $146,000 state government grant to an Ecklin South dairy farm for a soil trial in October 2018.
One of the farm's family members, Sam Doolan, said the farm emitted about 4100 tonnes of carbon per year, but they had planted thousands of trees and converted the soil in one paddock to offset those emissions.
"I reckon we could cut 1000 tonnes off that per year from the project we are doing," Mr Doolan said.
"We have picked one paddock to do a trial to see how much we can improve the soil by using different rates of compost and biochar.
"We'll see which application rate has improved the soil the most and implement that over the whole farm."
He said the downsides of the project were the farm could not produce the amount of compost on the farm they needed to provide nutrients for the grass.
The third-generation dairy farmer said there was a gradual push among some younger farmers on family farms to reduce their farm's emissions.
"There are probably some older farmers who are stuck in their ways and that's what they have been doing for decades and see no reason to change it, I think the younger generation are behind a push for different paths," Mr Doolan said.
"If every primary producer, or anyone in the agricultural game can reduce their emissions a little bit, that's helping the planet."
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