Sequestering carbon in soils in grazing systems




Department of the Environment


The DOIC endorsed the methodology proposal on 27 June 2014. The reasons for the DOIC's decision to endorse the methodology are published here in compliance with Section 112 (14A) of the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Act 2011.

This methodology proposal closed for public consultation on 6 May 2014. Two non-confidential submissions were received during the public consultation period.

Description of methodology proposal

The methodology proposal applies to soil carbon sequestration projects in grazing systems and relies upon direct measurement of soil carbon to estimate sequestration.  It sets out instructions for undertaking projects and estimating the resulting abatement.

Under the proposal, projects can be carried out on land that is either under permanent pasture, or that is converting to permanent pasture as part of the project. The methodology proposal sets out criteria that projects must fulfil before they will be deemed eligible and specifically excludes some activities. For example, some types of tillage are not covered by this methodology as they would result in significant greenhouse gas emissions that would undermine soil carbon sequestered through the project.

Within these broad parameters, project proponents can choose to implement any set of land management activities to build soil carbon. This set of activities must include at least one new management activity. Activities can include, but are not limited to: converting from cropland to permanent pasture, changing pasture species composition or changing grazing patterns.

Factors such as soil type, climate, management history and the type of activities proposed all influence the potential for soil carbon sequestration at a given site. There is no guarantee that any one or more of the eligible activities will build soil carbon at any particular project site.

The methodology proposal encourages proponents to research proposed management strategies and seek expert advice on what course of action will best suit their project site. Project proponents should undertake appropriate due diligence on the financial costs and any potential returns of undertaking a project prior to submitting a project application.

Proponents must estimate sequestration by measuring changes in soil carbon stocks in accordance with the methodology proposal. The methodology proposal, and associated guidelines, set out a process for soil sampling and analysis.  Proponents must also account for other relevant greenhouse gases emitted as a result of the project in calculating net abatement.

Under the proposed methodology, projects can be implemented on all farms that meet the eligibility criteria however it is not likely to be cost effective to adequately sample very large farms in areas where rates of soil carbon sequestration are low.

Methodology Documents