Queensland graziers Carly and Grant Burnham have been awarded the largest allocation of carbon credits for an individual soil carbon farming project in Australia.
The North Burnett farmers have been awarded 94,666 Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) by the national Clean Energy Regulator.
The long-time regenerative farmers started the project in 2016 across 5275 hectares of their property Bonnie Doone, in partnership with leading soil carbon farming advisor CarbonLink.
It follows the allocation on June 23 of more than 151,000 ACCUs for two of CarbonLink's initial project partners on grazing properties near Goondiwindi and Rockhampton.
Notwithstanding the seasonal challenges of dry weather and fluctuating cattle prices, extensive testing and auditing of Bonnie Doone demonstrated the Burnhams' adoption of new land management practices resulted in the equivalent of 126,222 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions being sequestered into their soils across the five-year reporting period.
Mrs Burnham said the project showcased how soil carbon projects could be integrated seamlessly across varied and diverse landscapes and under varied conditions.
"During the first five years of our project we experienced three very dry years, and we were concerned this would have a negative impact on the soil carbon sequestration," she said.
"However, by focusing on developing better grazing practices and improving ecological health, we were able to increase overall carbon stocks across the project area.
"That demonstrated to us that soil carbon sequestration at depth is a long-term process, and if you remain focused on ecology and production, soil carbon comes as a result of this."
In close partnership with CarbonLink, the couple implemented a series of land management practices and activities to improve Bonnie Doone's soil conditions including:
CarbonLink chairman Dr Terry McCosker said the Burnhams' Bonnie Doone project created a new Australian benchmark for soil carbon farming and would provide a great incentive for other landowners committed to positive climate action.
"The release of ACCUs for Bonnie Doone is a huge step toward a greener, more sustainable future for Australian primary producers and landowners," Dr McCosker said.
"Carly and Grant have not only removed a substantial amount of CO2 from the atmosphere, but their beef is carbon negative (climate positive) to the tune of 6.6t of CO2 buried for every tonne of livestock carried, after accounting for all emissions.
"The land management techniques used by Carly and Grant have added 47,000 tonnes of soil organic carbon to the project area. This equates to an additional 283,000 tonnes of water added to the capacity of the soil.
"It is proof that landowners who are committed to a tangible improvement in soil health can generate a diversified income stream while contributing to a healthier planet."
CarbonLink have now acted as the developer responsible for more than 95 per cent of all soil carbon credits issued to date in Australia.
Dr McCosker said CarbonLink is currently working with many prospective soil carbon producers, investigating the feasibility of projects in all states.
It has also committed to research and development for the soil carbon industry, currently engaging in various national scale projects investigating how soil carbon sampling costs can be reduced further.
This is the second large-scale issuance of soil carbon credits in four months, as multiple producers are now benefitting from managing a soil carbon project with Carbon Link.
In June 2023, two of CarbonLink's initial soil carbon project partners - "Rexton" near Goondiwindi and "Moora Plains" west of Rockhampton - became the first ever to receive soil carbon credits at scale.
They were issued a combined tally of more than 151,000 ACCUs by the Clean Energy Regulator, the largest allocation of its type under the 2021 soil carbon method at that time.
The ACCU Scheme was established to help Australia meet its emission reduction targets. It offers landholders (producers) the opportunity to generate carbon credits for projects that successfully sequester carbon from the atmosphere or avoid the release of greenhouse gas emissions.
A soil carbon project involves removing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in soil. The Clean Energy Regulator's 2021 soil carbon method allows ACCUs to be issued pursuant to new or materially different management activities that lead to a measured increase in soil carbon.
One ACCU represents 1 tonne of CO2 emissions avoided or sequestered. One tonne of Soil Organic Carbon is equivalent to 3.66 tonnes of CO2.
There are strict controls on how soil carbon increases are estimated. Random soil samples must be collected and sent to a laboratory that is both certified by the Australian Soil and Plant Analysis Council and accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities.
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