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 Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from fertiliser in irrigated cotton method

22 September 2016

Is the reducing greenhouse gas emissions from fertiliser in irrigated cotton (irrigated cotton) method suitable for your business?

  • Are you able to introduce at least one new management action in your irrigated cotton crop each year to increase nitrogen fertiliser use efficiency in that year?

If you have answered yes to this question, the irrigated cotton method may be suitable for your business.

An irrigated cotton project can help to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas entering the atmosphere by reducing synthetic fertiliser use while maintaining or increasing yield, or by increasing yield without a proportional increase in fertiliser use.

The emissions avoided by the project are calculated by subtracting the emissions generated during the project from those generated in a defined period before the project began. The difference in emissions before and after the project is the net abatement, which is used to apply for Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs).

Due to the exponential nature of emissions produced above a certain level of nitrogen fertiliser applied, cotton growers who currently use large amounts of fertiliser can achieve good levels of abatement by making only moderate reductions in fertiliser use. 

This method supports a broad range of management actions, including changes in the rate, timing, method and type of nitrogen fertiliser application. At least one new management action to improve nitrogen fertiliser use efficiency must be undertaken in the project area, and participants have the flexibility to select management actions that suit their individual circumstances.​

Method variations

Section 114 of the Carbon Credits (Carbon F​arming Initiative) Act 2011 (the Act)​ allows for methods to be revised and varied. This is to ensure methods continue to operate as originally intended. Variations to methods are developed and drafted by the Department of the Environment and Energy. Information on draft methods and method variations is available on the Department of the Environment and Energy’s website.

The Clean Energy Regulator recommends making yourself familiar with proposed method variations relevant to your project should they arise, and how any changes between the original method and the varied method may affect your project plan.

​Legislative requirements

You must read and understand the method and other legislative requirements to conduct an irrigated cotton project and earn Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs). This includes:

Tools and Resources

Quick reference guide to the irrigated cotton method

The quick reference guide provides basic information about eligibility criteria and obligations that must be met to earn ACCUs from an irrigated cotton project. It includes links to the legislation, but should not be viewed as an alternative to reading the full legislative requirements.

Quick reference guide contents:

Crediting period

Seven years – The crediting period is the period of time a project can apply to claim Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs).

Relevant section of the Act:

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Eligibility Requirements

There are general eligibility requirements in the Act, which include:

In addition, eligible projects are those growing cotton crops under irrigation, where the emissions of nitrous oxide can be directly related to the rate of synthetic fertiliser nitrogen used on the crop.

A project must be run on one or more cotton farms in any region of the Australian irrigated cotton industry. At least three previous years' worth of cotton crop data is also required for factors such as:

  • area of cotton and green manure (e.g. legumes) planted
  • lint yield
  • fertiliser use.

Sections 8 and 9 of the method also require that specific information is included in a project application before the project can be considered eligible. You should ensure you refer to these sections and provide all the required information.

Relevant section of the Act:

Relevant section of the Method:

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Project Activities

A project involves implementing management actions to increase synthetic nitrogen fertiliser use efficiency. Fertiliser use efficiency is the lint yield of the cotton crop, divided by the amount of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser applied to the crop.

The main ways to increase nitrogen fertiliser use efficiency are by:

  • increasing lint yield without a proportional increase in the amount of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser applied, or
  • reducing the amount of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser applied without a proportional decrease in lint yield.

You can choose the management actions that best suit your project, as long as they meet the standards given in Section 10 of the method, and are consistent with the relevant myBMP standard published by the Cotton Research and Development Corporation.

Some examples of management actions include:

  • changing the type of nitrogen fertiliser
  • changing the rate, timing or placement of nitrogen fertiliser application
  • improving drainage, or
  • growing different crop varieties to increase yield.

You must carry out at least one new management action each time the project has a cotton area, which is the area of land on which cotton is planted and irrigated. The new management actions must differ from management actions you have taken in the past.

For more information about management actions, refer to Table 1 in Section 10 of the explanatory statement.

Relevant section of the Method:

Relevant section of the Rule:

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Exclusions

Dryland production of cotton is excluded from these projects. This is because emissions from fertiliser application in dryland cotton depend on rainfall intensity and duration as well as the fertiliser rate. Therefore, emissions cannot be directly related to the rate of fertiliser used on the crop.

Fertilisers such as poultry litter, beef feedlot manure and composted ginning trash are also excluded. This is because they are waste products of other industries, and would produce the same amount of emissions regardless of whether they were used in a project.

Relevant section of the Method:

Relevant section of the Explanatory Statement

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How is abatement calculated

The amount of abatement resulting from a project is calculated using a tool called the Irrigated Cotton Calculator. Net abatement is determined by subtracting the project emissions from the baseline emissions over the reporting period.

The project emissions are those from:

  • synthetic nitrogen fertiliser and urea applied to the cotton area, and
  • green manure residues from crops planted on the cotton area immediately before the cotton crop.

The baseline emissions represent those that would occur if you did not run a project. They are determined during a set time known as the 'emissions intensity reference period'.

You must have access to at least three years of cotton crop data during this period to calculate the baseline emissions intensity, which is the amount of emissions per kilogram of cotton lint produced. Baseline emissions intensity is calculated for both synthetic nitrogen fertiliser and green manure.

To obtain the baseline emissions, the calculator multiplies the emissions intensity by your lint yield for each year of the reporting period. It then applies a variance discount to take into account natural variation in environmental conditions that could affect your fertiliser use efficiency (and therefore emissions intensity).

The calculator automatically calculates the net abatement amount for the reporting period once you have entered the required data, which includes:

  • region of the project area
  • nitrogen fertiliser amount and concentration
  • area of cotton and green manure planted, and
  • cotton lint yield.

Click for further information about calculating emissions and abatement.

Relevant section of the Method:

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Reporting Requirements

In addition to the reporting requirements of the Act and the Rule, Section 22 of the method sets out that offset reports must contain:

  • a digital GIS map of the fields making up your cotton area
  • descriptions of new management actions undertaken, and
  • the inputs and outputs of the Irrigated Cotton Calculator.

 

Relevant section of the Act:

Relevant section of the Rule:

Relevant section of the Method:

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Monitoring Requirements

In addition to the general monitoring requirements of the Act, Sections 24–28 of the method set out specific monitoring requirements. You must monitor the:

  • cotton area, seed planting density and irrigation status in each field in the cotton area
  • lint yield for each field in the cotton area
  • amount and nitrogen content of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser used in the cotton area, and
  • area and planting density of green manure crops planted prior to the cotton crop.

 

Relevant section of the Act:

Relevant section of the Method:

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Record-keeping requirements

In addition to the record-keeping requirements of the Act and the Rule, Section 23 of the method describes specific record-keeping requirements. These include keeping records of:

  • the version of the myBMP standard that applies to your management actions, and
  • the name, amount and nitrogen content of each nitrogen fertiliser product purchased.

 

Relevant section of the Act:

Relevant section of the Rule:

Relevant section of the Method:

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Audits

All projects receive an audit schedule when the project is declared and must provide audit reports according to this schedule. A minimum of three audits will be scheduled and additional audits may be triggered. For more information on the audit requirements, see the Act, the Rule and the audit information on our website.

Relevant section of the Act:

Relevant section of the Rule:

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Specialist skills

Some methods require specialist skills for a project. There are no specialist skills identified by this method.

Relevant section of the Rule:

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