Soil Carbon

Soil Carbon

Carbon is the beginning and end of all life. It is an energy form.

What is Soil Carbon?

It is estimated that at least 50 percent of the carbon in the earth’s soils
has been released into the atmosphere over the past centuries. Bringing that carbon back home through regenerative agriculture is one of the greatest opportunities to address human and climate health, along with the financial well-being of farmers (Hawken, 2017).

There are more organisms in a teaspoon of healthy soil than there are humans on the planet. Of the 3,170 gigatons of carbon found in terrestrial ecosystems, 80% can be found in the soil (Lal, 2008). This is more than 3 times more than the atmospheric pool (Oelkers & Cole 2008).

There is a growing body of evidence supporting the hypothesis that the
earth’s climate is rapidly changing in response to continued inputs of CO2 and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) to the atmosphere resulting from human activities (IPCC 2007).

The demand for carbon credits worldwide is growing as we move into a new era of valuing natural resource capital. This presents opportunities for all farmers (cropping, grazing, large or small scale) to generate a new income stream by farming carbon that will diversify and stabilise on farm income.

How does it work?

Farmers can now earn an income from Carbon Credits by registering a project with the government’s Emission Reduction Fund.

The first step towards registering a soil carbon project is to request a free insights report. Carbon Link will call and complete a questionnaire with you and then do some preliminary mapping of your property and run some numbers to see if it is worth your while.

To proceed to registration, you will need to meet a number of criteria and also make an eligible change in your farming practices. As part of the registration process, Carbon Link will work with you to create a Project Plan and Land Management Strategy as well as provide quotes for baseline testing of your current soil organic carbon (SOC) levels.

The proponent will then work with RCS to deliver and develop the changes in practice required to increase SOC levels 5o the next 5 years. After 5 years, Carbon Link will return to retest your SOC levels and and then the first Australian Carbon Credit Units will be issued. These credits represent 1 tonne of CO2 and can be held or sold on the open market.

Carbon Link and the Emissions Reduction Fund have positioned themselves to be the gold standard for carbon credits worldwide. Using deep soil core sampling, spectral modelling and remote sensing technology ensures that the sampling is as accurate as possible.

The upfront costs mean that soil carbon projects are usually suited to large land holdings but the feasibility of a project can vary greatly depending on the soil type, climate and rain fall as well. For smaller land holders, the viability of a soil carbon project will likely increase as time goes on and Carbon Link can assist in bringing together aggregations of neighbouring properties as well as with corporate partnerships and grants.

You can still qualify for a Soil Carbon Project even if you are already implementing a number of regenerative agricultural practices. Studies show that carbon sequestration actually increases as the percentage of soil carbon grows so the sky (or should we say the land) is the limit (Johnson, 2013).

For more details, visit the Clean Energy Regulator’s Website.