Agricultural technology company Agrimix says it is on track to deliver a scientifically-backed toolkit which will dramatically reduce the cost of soil carbon measurement by up to 90 percent for landowners.
Agrimix says the technology will enable landholders across the country to access and benefit from the fast-growing carbon credit market, often out of reach due to the high cost and variable accuracy of current soil carbon measurement technologies.
Working in collaboration with Queensland University of Technology’s Professor Peter Grace and Associate Professor David Rowlings, Agrimix is the first company in Australia to commission a large-scale scientific research study into eddy covariance flux tower technology.
Agrimix has received support for the study from Meat & Livestock Australia and regenerative cattle property investment company Packhorse.
For the past 12 months, a network of flux towers across grazing properties in Queensland and NSW have been remotely measuring carbon and water flows into and out of plants and soil at a rate of twenty times per second, every day of the year.
This massive amount of high frequency time series data has enabled the natural processes driving plant growth and carbon sequestration to be understood in greater detail. Results show combining this big data with internationally-recognised soil carbon models and state-of-the-art remote sensing technologies, can create a robust platform enabling farmers to monitor and drive productivity and ESG outcomes in real time, Agrimix said in a statement.
Chief executive Ben Sawley said the company was collaborating with an international team of soil carbon and eddy flux scientists to develop a trusted and credible measurement tool.
“The significance of our flux tower research is ground breaking due to the quality and expertise of our science team and their partnerships. They are world class,” Mr Sawley said.
The opportunities to increase productivity and sequester carbon in Australia were large, based on improving pasture land performance, however major barriers to landholders realising carbon credits have been high cost and variable accuracy, he said.
“Currently the cost to measure soil carbon through drilling soil cores and transporting them to a lab for analysis can be more than $30 per hectare, which makes the carbon credit market unattainable for a significant proportion of landholders. We are focussed on delivering the most accurate, scientifically-proven and economical soil carbon measurement and modelling toolkit available.”
Mr Sawley said other soil carbon measurement systems based on soil testing were costly and compromised by the high variability of soil carbon across a paddock.
“In contrast, using a well-tested soil carbon model, frequently calibrated and validated with flux tower data, offers relatively low ongoing operating costs over large areas. We believe the eddy flux technique and our reference network will be a key component in modelling agricultural systems, enabling landholders to simulate soil carbon and productivity changes under different management practices, before starting their projects.”
The flux tower-based technology is being developed and validated by QUT on multiple properties in Queensland and NSW including Packhorse’s 10,029ha Moolan Downs property.
Packhorse Investments Australia chair Tim Samway said the collaboration with Agrimix and QUT to develop and validate the effectiveness of flux tower technology was extremely attractive considering Packhorse aims to accumulating two million hectares of rural pastoral property with strong productivity improvement and carbon capture potential.
“As organisations globally pledge net zero targets, an increasing quantity of carbon credit units will be required to offset emissions,” Mr Samway said.
“Soil carbon is a key low-emissions technology, so further development of affordable and accurate technology such as flux towers and soil carbon models will be a game-changer.
“But not all approaches to measuring soil carbon changes are created equal, and it is critical that landholders seek out scientifically proven and tested methods to maximise their investment in this technology and generate the most accurate information,” he said.
“The carbon credit market grew to US$851m in 2021, so it is exciting to be a part of developing Australian-led initiatives that enable landholders to participate and profit from this fast-emerging market.”
Roma (QLD) beef producer John Scott, Allandale, said he believed the new technology would lead to greater uptake of soil carbon projects across Australia.
“While many farmers and graziers want to participate in carbon sequestration projects to maximise their land and help the environment, the barriers are substantial,” Mr Scott said.
“This will enable us to use a trusted measurement tool to realise commercial opportunities on our land while supporting the environment.”
Agrimix is an Australian-owned and family run agricultural technology company established in 2008. The company has been working with producers to find solutions to pasture productivity that are evidence based, practical and scalable. This on-the-ground knowledge, combined with science and research partnerships, means Agrimix is able to deliver innovative pasture management systems and products to maximise grazing productivity and profitability.