Accelerating soil carbon technologies

The Morrison Government is backing healthier, more productive soils to reduce emissions and help achieve the agriculture sector’s $100 billion by 2030 goal.

The first stage of the $50 million National Soil Carbon Innovation Challenge opens today.

Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said the Challenge will help remove the number one barrier to increasing soil carbon – the cost of measuring it.

“The Government’s Technology Investment Roadmap sets a goal of reducing the cost of measuring soil carbon by around 90%, to less than $3 per hectare per year,” Minister Taylor said.

“Our soils hold billions of tonnes of carbon already, and they can hold more as they become healthier and more productive.

“If we can get the cost of measurement down, this is a great opportunity for Australian farmers.

“The National Soil Carbon Innovation Challenge will support industry and researchers to bring forward new technologies like in-field soil probes and sensors, remote sensing and model-based approaches.

“This will make it easier for farmers to demonstrate how their land management is reducing emissions, and ensure they’re rewarded for their efforts.”

The first Low Emissions Technology Statement, released in September 2020, identified an innovation challenge as the most effective pathway to achieving the Technology Investment Roadmap soil goal.

The Challenge consists of multiple competitive grant rounds, including feasibility studies, proof of concept testing and validation and deployment through on-farm trials engaging land managers in new activities.

Stage one, with total funding of $1 million, will provide grants of up to $100,000 for conducting three-month feasibility studies.

The $49 million stage two will open in coming months. Applicants with more advanced technologies can elect to apply for Stage two without participating in Stage one, if they can show evidence of the feasibility of their technology. Projects can be conducted until June 2024.

The Government is also investing $7.9 million to collect more soil carbon data using existing techniques and make it publicly available. The data will be used to support the Challenge by testing how accurately the new technologies can predict on-ground soil carbon changes.

The Government is also investing $214.9 million, of which $196.9 million was funded through the 2021-22 Budget, in improving soil health, with support for farmers to increase soil testing to roll out Australia-wide in coming months.

Further information on the National Soil Carbon Innovation Challenge, including eligibility guidelines for Stage one, is available at: 

Media contact:

Minister Taylor's office 02 6277 7120