Carbon

Carbon industry expecting new Integrated Farm Method this year

Eric Barker, 06/03/2024

A NEW carbon farming methodology, which allows project holders to stack several projects on one piece of land, is expected to roll out later this year – after several years in development.

The Integrated Farm and Land Management methodology was originally pushed by former energy minister Angus Taylor in 2021 as a means of making carbon farming viable for more producers and reducing auditing costs.

Industry groups began putting together proposals for the how the methodology should be legislated in 2022 and were hoping to have it up and running by 2023.

IFLM has also been slated to take over from the most popular methodology, Human Induced Regeneration, which was wound up last year and is no longer available for use in new projects.

The wait for the new methodology has halted a lot of new carbon farming activity, with one carbon market analyst telling AgCarbon Central at the start of the year that it will be integral to supply of credits towards the end of the decade.

Bill Hurditch

Ecologist and consultant Dr Bill Hurditch has been part of the development of IFLM. He told AgCarbon Central several factors have been holding up the development of IFLM.

“It has taken quite a long time to develop it, part of the reason it has taken longer than we anticipated is because we had the Chubb-review – which took eight to 10 months out of the process,” Dr Hurditch said.

“We have been told, which is now public knowledge, that between August and October we should have another method out the other end of the pipeline. That all depends on the Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee and the minister giving it the tick.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water said the development of IFLM continued to be an important part of the Government’s goal of having net zero emissions by 2050.

“Development of the proposed Integrated Farm and Land Management method recommenced in late 2023, after being paused while the Independent Review of Australian Carbon Credit Units was undertaken,” the spokesperson said.

A series of technical workshops and stakeholder meetings were held on the IFLM method throughout November and December 2023.The department has been considering the outcomes of those workshops and meetings in the development of a draft method.

Where did IFLM come from?

With the way the carbon market currently stands, landholders can only do one project on one piece of land. The projects are audited and accounted for separately.

Dr Hurditch said in reality, carbon is sequestered in many different ways.

“You can either have a method, a vegetation method or a methane-reduction method – but on a living farm all these things are happening concurrently,” he said.

“But because it is more complicated to have all these different methods happening at the same time and getting the same audit, it takes a lot of consultation.”

Dr Hurditch said the development of the method was likely to make projects more viable and allow producers to scale up.

“It is more about addressing a practical issue, to say let’s get more efficient, let’s have a single audit, let’s have one team of white cars coming out to dig holes and check biomass, let’s have less leakage of money from the farmers pockets and it’s mostly about leaving less carbon credits on the table.”

Farmers need to lead development

Dr Hurditch was also speaking at the recent Wilmot Field Days about monetising natural capital in ways that are currently available and what some of the opportunities may be for the future.

He said it was important farmers were driving the projects on their own farms.

“Farmers really need to have the final say on these projects, without people coming onto their farms and telling them what to do,” he said.

“That’s why field days like Wilmot are important, so farmers can hear the information and take it back to their own operations and implement what works for them.”

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Comments

  1. Peter Dunn, 06/03/2024

    With due respect to Dr. Hurditch, this is totally and absolutely government spin and hype, dependent entirely on the survival of a supportive government. Well entrenched in a sector of the industry it may be, well supported by the government it may be, but subscribed to by a majority of taxpayers, more concerned with paying their mortgage than sequestering carbon, it is not.
    Contrast the reality discussed in the following NFF report about the current agriculture productivity slump. That report identifies that growth is hampered by government policy failures, administrative burdens and green tape, to the extent that productivity has fallen over 20 years from 2.18% down to 0.6%. That fall is despite farmers converting to using cutting edge technology and supposedly sustainable practices.
    The bottom line is, the long-suffering taxpaying majority will ultimately call a halt to the governments green dream, and consequently a halt to the outflow of environmental dollars to farmers. The postscript is, don’t be caught exposed. Farmers have the most important job in the country, producing food for the long-suffering taxpaying majority, and while passing governments seek to temporarily exploit farmers with their ideology, it has to be remembered it is the long-suffering taxpayers who always were and always will be the buyers of farm produce. It is not difficult to understand to whom loyalty should be owed.

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