Australian first soil carbon project underway in NSW Central West

Beef Central, 04/04/2012

Farmers in the Central West are being rewarded for their innovation and will play an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions as they begin storing carbon in their soil. The Soil Carbon Pilot is the first of its kind in Australia and was developed by NSW DPI and Office of Environment and Heritage. It was funded by Catchment Action NSW and is being implemented on the ground by the Lachlan Catchment Management Authority.


Farmers in the Central West are a step closer to building carbon in their soil and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, following extensive testing which is underway as part of Australia’s first soil carbon pilot.

Soil samples are currently being taken at sites after contracts were awarded to 11 landholders in the pilot area, which is located north of Cowra includes the centres of Manildra, Canowindra and Cudal.

NSW Department of Primary Industries research agronomist, Dr Warwick Badgery, said farmers have been enthusiastic about playing a role in reducing carbon emissions.

“What makes this project unique is that farmers are actively involved in the research, they have identified management changes to store extra carbon in soil, while still achieving profitable and sustainable agricultural production,” Dr Badgery said.

“By testing the potential for soil carbon sequestration, it will provide benefits to farmers and government in designing future carbon markets.

“Famers will benefit because storing carbon improves their productivity by increasing soil fertility, water-holding capacity and nutrient retention.

“Over the last couple of weeks staff from the Department of Primary Industries have been taking soil samples to measure base-line organic soil carbon content in the landholders’ soils.

“Farmers are now ready to get started and will be paid to store carbon in their soil through changing their land management practices across cropping and pasture systems.”

The soil carbon Market Based Instrument (MBI) has been developed by NSW Department of Primary Industries and Office of Environment and Heritage. It was funded by Catchment Action NSW and is being implemented on the ground by the Lachlan Catchment Management Authority.

How it works:

  • Experts take a series of soil sample to a depth of 30 centimetres below the surface.
  • The samples are used for a base-line so when the farms are evaluated at the end of the project, experts can see how effective and how much change has taken place.
  • The 11 farmers will then make changes to their cropping and pasture practices to bury carbon in the soil, instead of it being released into the atmosphere.

“All farmers involved in this project are required to participate in annual reporting and monitoring and provide updates throughout the year,” Dr Badgery said.

“When complete, this project is estimated to save 7,819 tonnes of CO2-equivalent from being released into the atmosphere.”

Dr Badgery said the project will assess the capacity to store carbon in the Central West of NSW and will help inform the level of expected sequestration across the state.

Source: NSW DPI


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