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Improving soil carbon storage and measurement

Improving soil carbon storage can help reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Farmers can increase the carbon stored in soil by changing land management practices. These practices increase the living and decomposing organic matter in soil.

Increasing the amount of carbon in soil can also support: 

  • improved agricultural productivity
  • protection against drought and erosion
  • improved water quality and biodiversity. 

The cost of measuring soil carbon is a barrier to wider uptake of practices that improve soil carbon storage.

Prioritising low-cost soil carbon measurement 

Soil carbon measurement is a priority low emissions technology in the Technology Investment Roadmap.

The Australian Government aims to remove barriers to the development of these technologies. The roadmap set a stretch goal of soil carbon measurement costs under $3 per hectare per year.

Investing in soil carbon innovation

We fund programs to lower the cost of soil carbon measurement:

  • The $50.7 million National Soil Carbon Innovation Challenge aims to fast-track low-cost, accurate technological solutions for measuring soil carbon. 
  • The $8 million Soil Carbon Data Program supports partnerships to improve data in low-cost alternatives for measuring soil carbon. This includes making improvements to the modelling of soil in Australia’s Full Carbon Accounting Model.

Incentivising soil carbon storage

We support farmers to increase soil carbon through the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF). Land managers receive one Australian carbon credit unit for every tonne of emissions reduced or stored through a project.

The 2021 ERF soil carbon method helps to reduce measurement costs by offering a hybrid physical soil testing and modelling option. This can make it easier and cheaper to run soil carbon ERF projects.

There is also a 2015 soil carbon method using default values available.

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Last updated: 25 February 2022

Content ID: 71074