What can I do on farm to earn a carbon credit?

We’ve listed the following 5 most popular methods farmers can use.

  1. Storing carbon in your soils
  2. Planting native trees and shrubs (Native Forest)
  3. Reducing nitrous oxide emissions from irrigated cotton
  4. Managing stock to allow native forest to grow
  5. Beef Herd Improvement – Earn a Carbon Credit by reducing methane in your Cattle Herd

 

1. Earning a carbon credit by storing carbon in your soils.

A Farmer’s Guide to the Soil Carbon Methodology

Measurement-Based Methodology for Sequestering Carbon in Soils in Grazing Systems (V2.4)

Background:

It took CFA and others many years to bring a Soil Carbon Method to life – many said it would never be done.

Yet, its here. We can participate. We can earn a Carbon Credit to improve our soils carbon levels.

Some aspects are complex and soil testing is required – but over time things are changing and innovations are happening.

What follows is the Plain English explanation of the  “Measurement of Soil Carbon Sequestration in Agricultural Soils”.

We cannot afford to forget that the Soil is the Largest Carbon Sink over which we have control, and ONLY farmers can improve soil carbon on a large scale. Soil carbon sequestration has the potential to help the planet regain its balance and help the landscape regain its health. It is essential for both food security and climate security.

It remains at the forefront of what Carbon Farmers of Australia is passionate about.

Explanation:

This method applies to:

  • Soil carbon sequestration projects (drawing down carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in soil and vegetation)
  • Most Agricultural Systems including cropping, pasture, horticulture and mixed enterprises.
  • Relies upon direct measurement of soil carbon to calculate sequestration (rather than a modelled approach).

Projects can be carried out on:

  • Land has been used for grazing, cropping (including perennial woody horticulture), bare fallow or any combination of grazing, cropping or bare fallow always provided at least one or more applied over the previous 10 years (baseline period). Records showing this will be required at audit time.
  • Land which has soil carbon improvement potential.
  • Land which you can sample to at least a 30cm depth.

Eligible Activities:

Examples of activities which can be undertaken on the project area to improve soil carbon include, but are not restricted to:

  • converting from cropland to permanent pasture
  • changing pasture species composition
  • changing grazing patterns
  • water ponding activities – where water effect is ‘spread’ over a wider area, effectively increasing effective rainfall and carbon
  • pasture cropping
  • application of Synthetic Fertilisers
  • application of Non-Synthetic Fertilisers. (There are timing requirements around these applications)
  • clay spreading and clay delving
  • other ‘innovative’ activities that are aimed at improving carbon stocks. These need to be assessed on a case by case basis
  • ‘new’ irrigation (some definitions apply)
  • compost application – depending on where the ‘waste’ material comes from
  • there are some limits on the use of some waste, such as straw. This will depend on the waste stream and its origins and can be assessed on a case by case basis
  • the application of amendments containing biochar are allowable under certain circumstances.

Please seek expert advice on which activities best suit your project site or submit YOUR innovative ‘carbon sequestration’ process or product to CFA for an informed opinion on its applicability.

Some activities are excluded.

Factors that influence the potential for soil carbon sequestration include:

  • soil type
  • climate (e.g. rainfall, temperature)
  • management history and
  • activity or management practice

Seek expert advice on which activities will best suit your project site. (Carbon Farmers of Australia has many years experience with known activities to improve soil carbon – please contact us for details.)

Consider…

  • the financial costs and
  • potential returns

…before submitting an application.

The method sets out a process for soil sampling and analysis to measure carbon levels in soil. This is reasonably complex – please ask for further details.

NOTE:  This method could be used with other CFI methods, at the same time on the same farm in different areas.

 

2. Earn a carbon credit by planting native trees and shrubs (Native Forest).

This method rewards those who are willing to plant trees and receive payments for the carbon stored in the trees/shrubs.

It is highly suited to GROUPS, or a Farmer wishing to establish tree plots for Shade/Shelter etc.

The reason it suits Groups (e.g. Landcare groups) is because you can get economies of scale on the buying/planting of the trees.

Environmental Plantings Method

Environmental planting sequestration projects involve establishing forests of native tree species on cleared land. Establishing environmental plantings increases the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by sequestering (absorbing and storing) the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2), as carbon, in the trees and tree debris.

How it Works

This method  involves the establishment of a permanent planting of tree species that are native to the local area. YOU must PLANT the Trees/shrubs.

These plantings must:

  • have the potential to attain a crown cover of at least 20 per cent across the area of land and a height of at least two metres on that land
  • be established by either direct seeding or planting, and

In the five years prior to the project’s establishment, the project land must:

  • have been non-forested,
  • have been used for grazing, pasture management, cropping, nature conservation or settlement, or no use, and
  • not had woody plants removed, other than known weed species that were required to be removed by law.
  • Plants cannot be removed for use as fencing.
  • Livestock cannot be grazed in the project area for three years following the establishment of planting, or at any other time if this would prevent the growth of trees.
  • Sequestration is calculated using a calculator supplied by the Government.

For more information get in contact with us.

 

3. Earn carbon credits by reducing nitrous oxide emissions from irrigated cotton.

Nitrogen Fertiliser releases a potent  ‘greenhouse gas’ when applied (nitrous oxide). Reducing this release helps the Government meet its emissions reduction target and the Government is  willing to pay Farmers to do this.

This method is available ONLY to Irrigated Cotton producers.

Activities Allowed

To earn a ‘carbon credit’ an Irrigated Cotton Farmer needs to change their fertilizer regime. While maintaining yield. To do this they can:

  • Reduce synthetic nitrogen fertilizer rates,
  • OR change timing /rate/application method
  • OR They may add an organic alternative
  • OR Other methods to improve nitrogen fertilizer efficiency.

If you have other ideas on reduction of nitrous oxide,  you are certainly able to implement these, so long as you can show a reduction in nitrous oxide.

How It Works

After your ‘new’ application rates are audited, the amount of nitrous oxide reductions are calculated. The difference between your ‘historic’ emissions from nitrogen fertilizer and the ‘new’ level of emissions becomes your emissions reduction and can be converted to a ‘carbon credit’

Requirements:

  • You need to have records of past N application rates,
  • Keep records of the changed management activity,
  • Be audited.

 

4. Earning carbon credits by managing stock to allow native forest to grow.

In some of the more extensive agricultural areas in Australia, where land size is relatively large and where often productivity has been falling – due to goat or other activities combined with drought and declining terms of trade – this method has been highly successful in turning around Farmers’ fortunes.

It is mainly suitable for larger areas – from about 5000 hectares. Farmers are paid to change livestock management to allow the native forest to regrow.

ERF Contracts can be for up to 10 years and a project can have a life of 25 years or 100 years.

For further information, or to talk it over, please call Louisa on: 0417 280 540.

Here is a short explanation of the method.  

What does a “human induced regeneration of an even aged native forest” project look like?

  • This method allows for establishment of permanent native forests
  • The regeneration involves managing or removing external pressures that prevent regrowth from occurring. Mainly this will mean the removal of stock pressure.
  • The method applies to projects where land where regrowth has been suppressed for at least 10 years. You need evidence of this.  (e.g. Stock records)
  • You can get an income for 25 years.
  • You can have it as a 100 year project or 25 years. If you choose 25 years, they will reduce your carbon credits by 20%

Grazing allowed.

  • Livestock are permitted in the project area in certain circumstances. They must not prevent the forest from achieving its height.
  • Trees may be thinned for ecological purposes after project commencement.

How does this method work?

The human-assisted regeneration of forest under this methodology means undertaking one or more of the following land management activities:

  • keeping livestock out of the area
  • managing the timing and the extent of grazing
  • managing, in a humane manner, feral animals
  • managing plants that are not native to the project area
  • ceasing mechanical or chemical suppression activities.

 

5. Beef Herd Improvement – Earn a Carbon Credit by reducing methane in your Cattle Herd

The methane emitted from cattle is thought to be a major contributor to the CO2 in the air.

In this method,  you can be rewarded for reducing the methane coming from your cattle. It is suited to larger herds, but could also be very good for a Cattle Group who believe they are turning off cattle earlier or have some other improvements which will reduce the methane from the herd. Please note that the ‘action’ to reduce methane is not restricted – so if you have some new technology – go for it.

For further information or to talk it over, just contact  Louisa on  0417 280 540.

POTENTIAL ACTIONS To Gain a Credit:

Improvement in the live weight  gain for age  enables target weights to be reached earlier.

You must use the Beef Herd Calculator.

EXAMPLES  (not an exhaustive list – freedom to choose any method if it can be shown to reduce methane emissions)

  • Supplementary feed.
  • Install fencing on rangeland properties, (grazing management).
  • Sell larger numbers of cattle to a finisher.
  • Genetics.
  • Other activities allowed so long as they can be shown to have an effect on emissions. Better feed, etc.
  • Does not prohibit changes in herd composition. Age etc.

Mechanics

  • Liveweight gain values are used to derive emissions intensity values
  • Emissions are related to feed intake per day, the duration of that feed intake and the protein content and DM digestibility of the feed.   These factors are incorporated in abatement calculations, and where a change in diet is a project activity, details of the change are required as an input to calculations.
  1. Liveweight and LWG Liveweight can be done by weighing, or where this is not practical, through verifiable alternative means.
  2. Need records from 3 of the last 7 years (don’t have to be sequential) But as close to date of application as possible. LWG must be greater than zero.
  3. Majority of feed has to be pastures.
  4. Need some evidence that the ‘new’ practice will reduce emissions.
  5. Must be able to identify members of each group of animals as defined by, the herd, the livestock class and the date of entry into the herd.

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