Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Sign In

Sequestering carbon in soils in grazing systems method

12 September 2016

Is the sequestering carbon in soils in grazing systems method suitable for your business?

  • Are you able to introduce at least one new management action to build soil carbon?
  • Are you are able to fund qualified technicians to conduct soil sampling?
  • Are you able to fund analysis of the collected soil samples by an accredited laboratory?

If you have answered yes to these questions, the sequestering carbon in soils in grazing systems method may be suitable for your business.

A soil carbon in grazing systems project involves storing carbon on grazing land by introducing activities that either increase inputs of carbon to the soil, reduce losses of carbon from the soil or both.

Soil carbon in grazing systems projects can use a range of actions to build soil carbon, as long as one of the actions is new. These activities may include, but are not limited to converting cropland to permanent pasture, rejuvenating pastures, or changing grazing patterns.  Some activities, which are listed in the method, are not eligible because they could potentially lead to an increase in emissions elsewhere or an increase in emissions that cannot be quantified. The person responsible for the project, within these parameters, chooses the activities selected for a project.

A series of measurements is used to estimate changes in soil carbon stocks over time. A soil sampling plan must be prepared and regular rounds of soil sampling and analysis need to be conducted. Collection of the samples must be done by a qualified technician and analysis must be completed in accredited laboratories. It is recommended the cost of collecting and analysing samples is considered when working out the feasibility of conducting your project.

As a sequestration activity, that is, an activity that stores carbon on the land, a soil carbon in grazing systems project is subject to permanence obligations. This means the soil carbon stored must be maintained until the end of the permanence period (25 or 100 years).

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 a soil carbon in grazing systems project and earn Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs). This includes:

Tools and resources

Regulatory guidance

Quick reference guide to the sequestering carbon in soils in grazing systems method

The quick reference guide provides basic information about eligibility criteria and obligations that must be met to earn ACCUs from this method. It includes specific links to the relevant legislation but should not be viewed as an alternative to reading the full legislative requirements. Additional information can also be found in the full method guide linked above.

Quick reference guide contents:

Crediting period

Twenty-five years – The crediting period is the period of time a project can apply to claim Australian carbon credit units.

Relevant section of the Act:

​​​​

Eligibility Requirements

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

In addition, a project must be located in Australia (excluding Australia's external territories). The project land must have been under permanent pasture or continuously cropped for at least five years before applying to conduct the project or before conducting a baseline sampling round, whichever occurs first (for an explanation of a baseline sampling round, see 'How is abatement calculated?').

Land that has been continuously cropped must convert to permanent pasture as part of the project, and project areas must remain as permanent pasture until the end of the final crediting period.

Part 2 and Part 3 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 parts and provide all the required information.

Relevant section of the Act:

Relevant section of the Method:

​​​​

Project Activities

A project involves storing carbon on grazing land by increasing inputs of carbon to the soil, reducing losses of carbon from the soil, or both.

You can choose from a range of management actions to build soil carbon, as long as one of the actions is new. New management actions could include:

  • converting from continuous cropping to pasture
  • undertaking pasture cropping
  • managing pasture by
    • implementing or changing pasture irrigation
    • applying organic or synthetic fertiliser to pastures
    • rejuvenating pastures, including by seeding
  • managing grazing by
    • changing stocking rates, or
    • altering the timing, duration and intensity of grazing.

Before you begin a project, you need to identify the area in which it will occur and divide it into one or more carbon estimation areas and exclusion areas (if applicable). The boundaries of a carbon estimation area must be defined in accordance with the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) mapping guidelines and the CFI soil sampling design method and guidelines.

The levels of carbon stored in the soil are estimated regularly throughout the project, based on soil samples taken from various locations. You need to prepare a sampling plan that identifies these locations. All samples must be collected and prepared by qualified technicians, and the samples must be analysed by accredited laboratories.

Click for more information about project activities, carbon estimation areas and soil sampling.

Relevant section of the Method:

​​​​

Exclusions

Some management actions are not eligible, because they might increase emissions elsewhere or that cannot be quantified. These are:

  • permanent destocking
  • applying biochar or soil amendments containing coal to the soil (an amendment is any material mixed into a soil)
  • bare fallow (land that is not seeded and has had less than 40 per cent ground cover for at least three months)
  • applying organic fertiliser that contains crop residue, hay or straw (unless they were part of a waste stream from intensive animal production, food processing or manufacturing), and
  • clearing woody vegetation (unless done to manage invasive woody weeds).

 

Relevant section of the Method:

​​​​

How is abatement calculated

Abatement is calculated for a reporting period by subtracting any increase in emissions from the change in the amount of soil carbon stored. If you wish, you may calculate the level of abatement using the online Soil Organic Carbon Calculator: Project Data Entry – V 1.0.

The sources of emissions accounted for in the method are:

  • livestock
  • synthetic fertiliser
  • lime, and
  • tillage.

To determine if emissions have increased in a reporting period, they are compared to a baseline level of emissions, which represent what would happen if your project did not go ahead. The baseline emissions period is the five financial years before the financial year in which the project began. The baseline emissions for each source are calculated using different methods outlined in Part 5 of the method.

After your project starts, but before you undertake any management actions, you must organise a baseline sampling round. This provides an initial estimate of the amount of soil carbon in each carbon estimation area. As mentioned under 'Project activities', sampling must be conducted by a qualified technician.

The change in soil carbon in a reporting period is determined by calculating the change in soil carbon between the baseline sampling round and the most recent sampling round, and subtracting any increase in soil carbon already reported.

Click for more detail on calculating abatement, emissions and soil carbon levels.

Relevant section of the Method:

​​​​

Reporting Requirements

In addition to the reporting requirements of the Act and the Rule, Division 7.4 of the method also sets out method-specific requirements for project reports.

In your first report, you must provide information relating to:

  • project management actions
  • the baseline sampling round and all other sampling rounds conducted, and
  • values calculated for the change in the amount of soil carbon.

Subsequent reports must provide information relating to:

  • any changes to project management actions
  • all sampling rounds conducted, and
  • values calculated for the change in the amount of soil carbon.

All reports must provide information relating to:

  • emissions from all sources for the baseline period and the reporting period
  • soil sampling method design and analysis
  • a statutory declaration by the qualified person involved in soil sampling, and
  • the net abatement amount.

 

Relevant section of the Act:

Relevant section of the Rule:

Relevant section of the Method:

​​​​

Notification Requirements

Section 7.4 and 7.5 of the method set out when you need to notify us of:

  • risk of reversal events
  • known erosion events, and
  • proposed changes to project management actions.

 

Relevant section of the Method:

​​​​

Monitoring Requirements

In addition to the general monitoring requirements of the Act, Section 7.3 of the method sets out specific monitoring requirements. These include monitoring:

  • 'risk of reversal' events, and
  • known erosion events.

A risk of reversal event occurs when part of the project area is:

  • subject to bare fallow (i.e. not seeded and with less than 40 per cent ground cover for at least three months)
  • subject to a fire or other event that reduces surface vegetation cover below 40 per cent, or
  • converted from permanent pasture to cropland with no pasture cover.

 

Relevant section of the Act:

Relevant section of the Method:

​​​​

Record-keeping requirements

In addition to the record-keeping requirements of the Act and the Rule, Division 7.3 of the Method sets out that projects must also meet specific record-keeping requirements. These include keeping records relating to:

  • project management actions
  • soil sampling method design and analysis, timing and frequency
  • purchase of synthetic fertiliser, lime and seed
  • type and composition of fertiliser and lime applied to soil
  • tonnage of harvested crops
  • livestock inventory (or carrying capacity of the project area, depending on relevant baseline)
  • soil carbon, emission and abatement calculations.

 

Relevant section of the Act:

Relevant section of the Rule:

Relevant section of the Method:

​​​​

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:

​​​​

Specialist skills

Section 4.5 of the method sets out that soil samples must be collected and prepared by qualified technicians, and the samples must be analysed by accredited laboratories. More information on the skills and qualifications required for technicians is available in the CFI soil sampling and analysis method and guidelines.

Relevant section of the Rule:

Relevant section of the Method:

​​​​

Documents on this page Documents on this page

Was this page useful?

LEAVE FEEDBACK
 
 
preload-image-only preload-image-only preload-image-only preload-image-only preload-image-only preload-image-only preload-image-only preload-image-only preload-image-only