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Soil carbon

03 December 2021

The new soil carbon method will help support more uptake of soil projects by reducing the costs of running soil carbon projects by using new soil carbon models. This is consistent with the Low Emissions Technology statement. Reducing the cost of soil carbon measurements has the potential to unlock soil carbon sequestration on a broad scale and improve farm productivity including enhanced crop yields and boosted resilience to drought and erosion.

The 2021 soil carbon method was made by the Minister in December 2021.

For more information on the method visit the soil carbon method page.

For information on public consultation and consideration of the method by the Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee (ERAC), visit the 2021 soil carbon method page on the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources’ consultation hub.

Diagram of the soil carbon method development process.

Method development plan

Development stageStatusMilestones
Planning and scopingComplete
  • Ministerial method priority announced quarter 4 2020.
  • Initial method scoping and planning completed in quarter 4 2020.
Develop draft methodComplete
  • Initial co-design workshop held quarter 4 2020.
  • Co-design process continued during quarters 1 and 2 2021.
Technical and expert consultationComplete
  • Technical review scheduled quarters 1 and 2 2021.
ERAC considerationComplete
  • ERAC consideration scheduled quarter 2 2021.
Public consultationComplete
  • Public consultation undertaken in August and September July 2021.
Refinement and draft finalisationComplete
  • Refinement and draft finalisation during quarter 4 2021.
ERAC approvalComplete
  • ERAC review scheduled quarter 4 2021.
Minister approvalComplete
  • Method finalised by quarter 4 2021.
Method madeComplete
  • December 2021.

Issues Register

Ensuring soil sampling cost reductions are achieved through the new hybrid approach.
The Clean Energy Regulator (the agency) has investigated opportunities to reduce costs of the hybrid approach including changes to the minimum sampling requirements and sampling frequency. The CER worked with ERAC to ensure the new hybrid approach meets the offsets integrity standards.
Revisions to the existing measured soil carbon method to ensure useability and uptake, including comprehensive review of eligible management activities, restricted activities, prohibited activities and the Land Management Strategy. Stakeholders have asked for a high-level list of activities to “future proof” the method.
The agency has reviewed current method provisions and engaged with stakeholders on possible revisions to support uptake. The ability to broaden the list of eligible management activities is limited by the CFI Act, which requires that credits are issued based on carbon gains achieved through one of the specified eligible management activities.
Investigating whether technologies are available to support a modelled-only approach to estimating soil carbon abatement.
The agency did not receive sufficient evidence to facilitate a new fully modelled method by September 2021 and this approach was not progressed for development this year. The hybrid approach allows models to be developed and validated, which could facilitate a future modelled method.
​Ensuring net abatement calculations are fit for purpose
​The agency has worked with technical experts to ensure the net abatement calculations are fit for purpose and made changes to support uptake that maintain integrity such as removing the regression approach.
​Reducing costs of soil sampling.
The agency has reviewed and enhancing the spectroscopy requirements to support cost reductions using the measured approach.

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