The 14th March this year marked the historic issuance of the first Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) to a soil carbon farming project, that goes toward Australia's emissions targets under the Paris Agreement.
We live in exciting times for agriculture, this is a huge world first!
It means that farmers in Australia are being paid RIGHT NOW to store carbon in their soils through innovative farming practices.
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 historic milestone and all the projects that are currently on the ground, mark an important point in history 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 and have already been sampled 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.
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 beyo