Soil carbon projects under the Australian Emissions Reductions Fund (ERF) and many international frameworks typically share some key components:
• Verification of “usual” farming practices over a baseline period (5-10 years prior to project start depending on practice – refer to Appendix 1 – Decision Tree). • Adoption of a new land management practice with the reasonable expectation that soil carbon will increase – commonly referred to as an “additionality” requirement. • Other eligibility requirements are met. • Soil sampling at the start of the project, return sampling at regular intervals (2-5 years), and sampling at the end of the project. • Project duration of either 25 years or 100 years.
Farming practice changes that are eligible for ACCUs under the ERF “Measurement of soil carbon sequestration in agricultural systems method” include:
1. applying nutrients to the land in the form of a synthetic or non-synthetic fertiliser to address a material deficiency; 2. applying lime to remediate acid soils; 3. applying gypsum to remediate sodic or magnesic soils; 4. undertaking new irrigation; 5. re-establishing or rejuvenating a pasture by seeding; 6. establishing, and permanently maintaining, a pasture where there was previously no pasture, such as on cropland or bare fallow; 7. altering the stocking rate, duration or intensity of grazing; 8. retaining stubble after a crop is harvested; 9. converting from intensive tillage practices to reduced or no tillage practices;
Initial discussions with landholders (and later project reporting) must identify at least one land management change to be adopted on the project area or Carbon Estimation Area (CEA). The land management change must occur after the project has been declared an eligible project but before the first sampling round after the baseline.