Joint media release: Technology helping farmers store carbon boosted by Albanese Government

The Hon Chris Bowen MP, Minister for Climate Change and Energy
Senator the Hon Murray Watt, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Minister for Emergency Management

Almost $30 million in grant funding has been awarded to farmers and land managers across Australia to make it easier for them to measure the amount of carbon in their soils.

Eight innovative projects will share $28.9 million in grants under the first development and demonstration grant round of the government’s $50 million National Soil Carbon Innovation Challenge to accelerate the development of reliable, low-cost technologies for measuring soil organic carbon.

This funding will put producers on track to improve farm productivity and create future job opportunities. 

“The Albanese Government is giving Australian farmers and land managers the help they need to reduce emissions, increase carbon sequestration and participate in carbon markets,” Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen said.

“Farmers are at the front line of action on climate change. These grants will help reduce the cost of measuring soil organic carbon, helping them manage their soils and demonstrate how they are reducing emissions.

“As well as helping reduce emissions, storing more carbon in soils improves farm productivity and helps protect against drought and erosion.”

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Murray Watt said the projects would empower farmers and land managers to measure and improve their soil carbon resources, and inform sustainable practices that harness the potential of Australia’s emissions reductions.

“Through agricultural productivity, our soils contribute $63 billion per year to the Australian economy. We recognise that prioritising soil health by increasing soil carbon is integral to sustainable agriculture and the industry’s ambition to continue feeding the world,” Minister Watt said.

“Soil contributes to Australia’s climate and disaster resilience, including through carbon cycling, rainfall retention, physical stability and erosion management. That’s why we are working with farmers and land managers to ensure the sustainable use of our soil to meet the needs of today, without compromising the needs of future generations.”

Over a 2-year period, projects will develop and demonstrate innovative soil organic carbon measurement technologies across a range of Australian agricultural landscapes and production systems.

The successful applicants are:
•    Cloud Agronomics ($1.8 million) in partnership with Meat and Livestock Australia, University of Tasmania, Duxton Farms, Primary Industries and Regional Development South Australia–SARDI, Grain Producers SA, Southern Cross Agricultural Exports, FarmLab and Sync Agri will enable prediction of soil organic carbon by combining direct measurements with remote sensing/machine learning.

•    The University of Queensland ($4.3 million) in partnership with FarmLab, Ziltek, AgriCircle and University of Aberdeen will develop high resolution maps of soil organic carbon using proximal and remote sensing combined with machine learning.

•    Carbon Link Operations ($2.3 million) in partnership with Mullion Group, Cibo Labs, MaiaGrazing will commercialise an approach to deliver low cost, high accuracy soil condition and soil organic carbon measurements using novel soil core proximal sensors in combination with advanced spatial models.

•    AgriProve ($9.2 million) will use the launch of an integrated synthetic aperture radar and optical satellite into low Earth orbit, providing data to fuse with machine learning for measuring soil organic carbon.

•    Agrimix ($3.2 million) in collaboration with the Queensland University of Technology will develop fully integrated soil organic carbon measurement using CO2 flux, remote sensing and models.

•    SensorC ($2.3 million) in partnership with AxisTech, the University of Western Australia and FarmLab will test the on farm application of a novel soil probe which measures soil organic carbon, bulk density and soil moisture.

•    Carbon Project Australia ($2.4 million) in partnership with RIMIK, CRINNAC and Oracle Group will prototype and commercialise a vehicle mounted soil probe and penetrometer to measure bulk density. This will be used in conjunction with a near infrared spectroscopy scanner and data analysis software quantify soil organic carbon stocks.

•    Hone Carbon ($3.3 million) in partnership with AgriProve, Elders and Carbon West will demonstrate the commercial scalability of Hone Lab Red, a low-cost, in field, soil organic carbon measurement tool through on-farm testing at 110 locations.

A second round for development and demonstration grants will be conducted in 2023.