Thinking about starting a soil carbon project? Here’s some things you should know.

Transcribed from CarbonLink’s video explainer.

CarbonLink™ is unique in that we have an exclusive NetCarbon™ producer program that engages producers all the way from first technical feasibility and financial feasibility assessment through to project registration, through to comprehensive mapping program, through to a land management strategy and then baseline sampling and subsequent sampling offset report writing that we submit to the government to demonstrate how much carbon you’ve sequestered over five years right through to the overseeing of the issuance of your carbon credits into your carbon credit account.

And then we support you in marketing your carbon credit for sale, or you can potentially hold your carbon credits to retire against your own emissions profile to be carbon neutral. CarbonLink’s NetScan™ system is the first of its kind in the world. It is a visible infrared scanning unit based in our Gladstone laboratory that scans our soil cores. Another differentiator is that we drill down to as deep as 1200mm and we extract a core of soil carbon about three and a half centimetres wide. These cores are shipped to our Gladstone office to scan.

Traditionally, people have measured soil carbon down to only, say, 30 centimetres. That portion of the soil profile, the carbon is cycling, it’s coming, it’s going, it’s coming, it’s going. But below 30 centimetres, the carbon gets stored and stays there and we make sure that no carbon credit is left behind and that we measure most of the soil carbon that’s going to be in your soil profile as cost effectively as possible. That’s right. Our scanning instrument measures the average of the soil carbon content every five centimetres. Traditionally, agronomists had measured the top ten centimetres average, and then the ten centimetres to 30-centimetre average, and then maybe down to 60-centimetre averages, whereas we do increments every five centimetres to make sure that we’ve captured all the soil carbon that’s present in that soil profile accurately at different depths. So, we can provide a chart demonstrating the baseline soil carbon content and then the increase in soil carbon over five years at different depths.

The CarbonGood™ logo is awarded to producers who have demonstrated that they are on the journey to not only being carbon neutral, but to being carbon positive. Many producers possibly are already carbon neutral or carbon positive, but they haven’t been measured and registered suffice to do so. If you get a CarbonGood™ logo certification that demonstrates that you’re actively involved in carbon farming towards or beyond carbon neutrality, the logo could be advertised on your gate, going into your property, on your vehicles, and it could be basically a conversation starter for people who see the logo and say, what’s carbon good? And you can say, Well, I’m on a journey towards regenerative agriculture and improving my country through regenerative agricultural principles. I am taking carbon dioxide gas out of the atmosphere and I’m putting it in the soil and I’m avoiding emissions by improving the health of my livestock.

NetSpatial™ is a great component of CarbonLink and comprises a big team of geospatial experts that undertake the mapping that’s required to do a soil carbon project. A soil carbon project must forecast and estimate soil carbon sequestration rates based on variation in soil types across the landscape of the property. In order to characterise a property well, we have to purchase satellite imagery. We have to classify that satellite imagery into forest or eligible area and ineligible area, and we incorporate what they call gamma reflectance characteristics into it. Gamma reflectance looks at variation in soil particle size and can be is very closely correlated to the underlying soil type and the potential for that area to sequester carbon.

The process is quite involved to actually find satellite imagery that doesn’t have any clouds in it that is recent and then it’s classified. And then we cut the property up into carbon estimation areas. And within that, we have strata within any one carbon estimation area. And there is a certain amount of sample points for soil sampling that are required per strata. And all of that information is provided to the producer in maps. And then the producer can tell us where some of those sample points might run into some trouble, like a rock or a tree or a creek. And we’ll try to exclude those as much as possible. But there’s nothing like the producer’s knowledge of their property to guide us through the process of the baseline sampling based on the random sample points, based on the strata and the carbon estimation areas and the image classification. Very involved process, but we’ve got world class team involved and we produce some of the best maps in the ERF CarbonLink’s net Impact Project Plan is a very comprehensive document that enables the producer to make a go no go decision towards registering a soil carbon project or a vegetation project for that matter.

The NetImpact™ Project Plan includes a technical and financial feasibility assessment. We do a deep dive into your soils. We look at the climate, the topography. We determine the eligible area through a mapping process. And we provide maps to the producer to demonstrate where the variation in soil carbon will be, a forecast yield and a forecast return on investment so the producer can look at it and say, I know how much it’s going to cost. I know all of the steps involved in developing a carbon project. And here’s my likely yield under a variety of different carbon price scenarios.

The NetImpact™ Project Plan is only available through CarbonLink. Register your expression of interest and we can guide you through the process of what’s involved in a project plan. We provide you with a project planning agreement that details all the components of the project plan you’ll be receiving. And then we talk with producers about their practice change plans for their property, including changes in intensification of grazing or rejuvenation of pastures, et cetera. And then we write up the document that includes all the steps, we then debrief the project plan with the producer and then the producers in a position to make an informed decision of going forward.

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