Soil Carbon Project 101

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Let’s break down the basics of a soil carbon farming project.


What is a soil carbon project?

Participating in a soil carbon project involves managing your land in a way that increases the amount of carbon stored in your soil. By building these soil carbon stocks beneath the ground, you are removing emissions from the atmosphere. This removal, and the resulting increase in your soil carbon stocks, earn you Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs). 


What activities can I do to increase my soil carbon?

Here at the CFF, we undertake soil carbon projects according to the Estimation of Soil Organic Carbon Sequestration using Measurement and Models.


There are several activities you can undertake to encourage soil carbon increases. A soil carbon project will require you to implement one or more new or materially different eligible practices. Check out the eligible practices, and utilise our eligibility checklist here!


Example of a new land management activity 

In a cropping system, retain stubble from a harvested crop and let livestock graze. Following this, minimise tillage when sowing the new crop, so minimal disturbance to the soil occurs. Tillage of soil disturbs the fungi connections that form in undisturbed soil, releasing emissions into the atmosphere.


What are the benefits of a soil carbon project?

Increasing carbon stocks in the soil can have many benefits to your farming practices including:

  • Increasing farm productivity
  • Enhancing soil health
  • Building drought resilience
  • Decreasing erosion
  • Increasing biodiversity on your farm
  • Boosting your farm’s bottom line
  • Enabling farms to achieve carbon neutrality


What does farm baselining involve?

To be awarded carbon credits you first need to determine the starting point for your project before you start these new activities. This will be your baseline. 


To figure out your baseline, you will need to determine:

  1. Your farm’s operational carbon emissions
  2. How much carbon is already stored in your soil

To figure out your farm’s operational carbon emissions, you need to collate farm records over the five years prior to your project (or make conservative assumptions). This will be used to calculate your ‘typical’ on-farm emissions from livestock, machinery, fertiliser etc. 


For the soil carbon side of things, you will need to hire an independent third-party contractor to take soil core samples to see exactly how much soil organic carbon (SOC) is within your soils. This is called baseline sampling and provides a starting point for your soil carbon project.


Once you have your baseline, the aim of the game is to increase your Soil Organic Carbon (SOC). 

After 3-5 years of undergoing your new land management practices, a contractor will measure your soil again to determine if you have been successful in increasing your SOC.  Basically, you get rewarded for net SOC changes:


Net SOC = gains in SOC – increases in on-farm emissions from the emissions baseline


And 1 tonne of net Soil Carbon gained = 3.6 tons of Co2e sequestered = 3.6 Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs).


Not a bad equation for the bottom line!


An important thing to note here is that any added farm emissions from within your project area (for example methane from grazing livestock) will be calculated in the baseline, and therefore deducted from the net SOC increase.


What are the costs and will it be profitable?

Glad you asked! The costs/revenues of each project will vary according to factors including the size of your project, locations, topography, existing SOC, and your planned LMS. 


To get started, CFF can provide you with a tailored feasibility report which estimates costs and returns, specific to your farm, based on several alternative financial scenarios. If you have recent soil tests, we can work off them, otherwise, we use local soil data from CSIRO’s LOOC-C carbon abatement calculator. 


Our flexible fee model provides landholders complete control of their carbon project. And as they have 100% control over their carbon crops, the farmer keeps 100% of the carbon credits.


Head over to some of these awesome resources to learn more:

  1. Listen to CFF’s CEO Lachy Ritchie chat to Lower Blackwood’s Talkin After Hours Podcast about our DIY model for carbon farming.
  2. Check out the value provided by our soil carbon feasibility report.
  3. Check out our collaboration with FarmLab CEO Sam Duncan, on five useful things to know before looking into a soil carbon project.


Ready to find out more?

Explore our range of educational resources in our Carbon Farming Education Hub where we frequently publish educational articles, webinars, and guidebooks. 


When you’re ready to explore the feasibility of undertaking a carbon project on your property, email us at or give us a bell at (08) 6835 1140 to be connected with one of our project facilitators.

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The Carbon Farming Foundation (ABN 67 645 498 004) is a Corporate Authorised Representative (AFS Representative No.001298535) of True Oak Investments Ltd (ABN 81 002 558 956, AFSL 238184).

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