SOIL CARBON FARMING PROJECT
UNDER A REGULATED SCHEME
Thursday 14th March 2019 marked a historic date, making the issuance of the first Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) to a soil carbon project under the government's Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF), now re-named the Climate Solutions Fund. Bootstrap Environmental Services sampled the soils on this and many other carbon farming projects around south-eastern Australia.
This is both a world first and an Australian first,
that a project is issued carbon credits
for sequestering soil carbon
under a regulated scheme that contributes to Australia's emissions targets under the Paris Agreement
Soil organic carbon is in effect a scorecard for farming practices. Building soil carbon using innovative practices has direct effects on production and yield when this leads to healthy soils. Healthy soils mean healthy livestock, crops and horticulture. This is a positive for the farm, the farmer, consumers and the environment. The broader benefit of a price on carbon adds to the co-benefits of increasing soil health.
This date and all the projects that are currently on the ground, mark an important milestone in the transition of agriculture from a source of greenhouse gas emissions to significant carbon sink. More projects are coming online around Australia and more farmers are now adding carbon farming to their enterprise.
Many projects are following close behind the world first Grounds Keeping Project and have already been baselined by Bootstrap Environmental Services. Farmers are encouraged to ask questions and to find out more about carbon farming and how they can be involved. Diversifying farm income is smart business and so is building soil carbon.
The credits received by the Grounds Keeping Carbon Project, which showcases the work of a Victorian innovation and farming system that creates soil carbon in pastures are the first soil carbon credits to count towards Australia’s national targets under The Paris Agreement; they are also the first soil credits worldwide to be eligible under the Paris Agreement.
The higher the soil carbon levels, the more productive and healthy the farm. Changes to land management that promote sequestration of carbon into soils must be on eligible land and include a new land management activity such as:
re-establishing or rejuvenating a pasture by seeding, or permanently maintaining a pasture where there was previously no pasture, such as on cropland or bare fallow
altering stocking rate, duration or intensity of grazing
retaining stubble after a crop is harvested
converting from intensive tillage practices to reduced or no tillage practices
modifying landscape or landform features to remediate land (e.g. undertake water ponding)
using mechanical methods to add or redistribute soil
applying nutrients to the land (such as compost)
applying lime to remediate acid soils
applying gypsum to remediate sodic or magnesic soils
undertaking irrigation activities from new irrigation efficiency savings.
A baseline soil sampling round must be undertaken to measure soil carbon stocks in carbon estimation areas on the farm after a carbon farming project is registered and before the new land management activity is applied. The carbon estimation areas on the farm are then sampled again within 5 years (or year 2- <5) to obtain your carbon credit units dependent on increasing the baseline level of soil carbon.
Under this carbon farming method, net abatement (the amount used for crediting carbon credits) corresponds to the increase in soil carbon over time, after the emissions caused by additional activities used to build soil carbon (for example extra fertiliser applications beyond the baseline) have been subtracted. A land management strategy must be prepared or reviewed by an independent person advising on what management activities are best suited to the site, including information on risks, monitoring and improvements.
If you would like more information or are interested in being a carbon farmer and participating, please get in touch with Bootstrap Environmental Services
‘We are very proud to have achieved this formal recognition’, said founder, inventor and Gippsland farmer, Niels Olsen. ‘The opportunity for expanding regenerative farming and building soil carbon at scale is phenomenal and we are now ramping up our production to deliver on this potential.’
The soil carbon credits were presented to the farmers on their Hallora farm, at an issuance ceremony by the Chair of the Clean Energy Regulator David Parker. He said, ‘Soil carbon capture and sequestration is an innovative emissions reduction measure. There is a triple win in aiding international efforts to address climate resilience, improving soil health and food productivity, and the bottom line for farmers. This project is an example of the co-benefits that can be achieved under the Emissions Reduction Fund, and a beacon of innovation in the Agricultural sector,’ Mr Parker said.
Australia is in a world leading position on soil carbon due to the bipartisan support of successive Australian governments and the work of the Clean Energy Regulator and the Department of the Environment and Energy.
The ERF’s soil carbon methods provide land owners and managers across the land sector an incentive to store soil carbon and improve management practices, improving soil health and reducing carbon in the atmosphere.
Soil organic carbon is directly related to agricultural productivity – the higher the soil carbon levels, the greater the productivity. This is a function of soil carbon improving water holding capacity and nutrient availability for soils, in addition to improving conditions for soil biological activity. When water and rainfall are used more effectively growing seasons extend and farms become more drought tolerant.
Farmers, landholders, project owners and developers that are interested in implementing soil carbon projects or to find out more about this project are invited to contact Bootstrap Environmental Services.
More about the project
The project is located in West Gippsland Victoria, and seeks to increase carbon stores in the soil using SoilKee renovator technology and improved management practices.
The Soilkee Pasture Renovator combines cultivation, mulching, aeration and mixed species seeding to improve grazing systems and build soil carbon effectively.
In one year, the Soilkee system increased carbon in their soils by 11.2t CO2e per hectare on Niels Olsen’s Hallora 100 ha farm (and continues to do so after subsequent sampling rounds at about the same rate. The carbon credits can earn the Olsen family valuable revenue that is additional to traditional farm gate returns over the 25 year life of the project.
The Soilkee Renovator provides an elegant solution to pasture cropping that combines cultivation, mulching, aeration and mixed species seeding to grow better quality feed while building soil carbon. This ‘salad bowl’ approach provides balanced nutrition, feed diversity, organic matter and nitrogen from legume nodulation. Seeding annual crops into perennial pasture improves soil health by promoting beneficial bacteria, fungi and worms.
The patented action of the ‘kees’ simultaneously mulches plant matter into the soil (green manuring), aerates the top soil, mechanically assists rainfall infiltration, and cultivates a linear seed bed, while disturbing only 17% of the surface. The minimal disturbance footprint avoids carbon losses which occur with alternative pasture renovation methods.
Niels Olsen initially developed the Soilkee Renovator as a means to regenerate degraded land on his own farm. He now markets the technology to farmers and contractors helping them to maximise their soil carbon and agricultural productivity.
Photographs from the issuance ceremony and from the Soilkee Farm
INDEPENDENT SOIL CARBON FARMING SAMPLING SERVICES
We specialise in providing you with independent field based soil sampling services - helping all farmers in Australia to be carbon farmers.
We sampled the first project in the world to obtain carbon credits generated by sequestering soil carbon under a regulated scheme (the ERF), that goes toward meeting Australia's response to climate change under the Paris Agreement.
Read more about the WORLD FIRST project sampled by Bootstrap Environmental Services.
Bootstrap Environmental Services continues to support farmers and carbon farming projects by providing highly specialised, methodology compliant, audit ready, soil science sampling services.
We have taken over 10,000 soil samples under various carbon methodologies and we are a leading industry provider.
SOIL SAMPLING TECHNICAL AND CONSULTANCY SERVICES FOR
CARBON FARMING PROJECTS
Soil sampling on carbon farming projects under the Climate Solutions / Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) is complex process requiring expertise. Our expertise lies in working with these methodologies and providing services that are audit ready for the Clean Energy Regulator (CER). Under ERF and like soil carbon methodologies, we have taken over 10,000 samples on many projects across Australia. We sampled the first project in Australia to obtain Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCU's) and continue to provide quality, trusted services to the sector. We conduct soil sampling and record keeping complying with auditor standards but you get far more with our soil science and technical capacity and extensive field experience. We handle Chain of Custody (COC) to accredited laboratories and reporting on request. Our plant and ancillary equipment is to specification under methodology and our soil technicians are certified with a background in soil science.
CARBON FARMING IN AUSTRALIA IS WELL UNDERWAY
Once you submit a contact form we will try to get back to you as soon as possible. The more detail you leave the better we can address your query. If you leave a contact number, we can return your message with a call.