Kikuyu pasture showing topsoil

Kikuyu pasture showing topsoil.

The Soil Carbon Research Program: assessing soil carbon across Australia

The first nationally coordinated program of soil carbon research has gathered a wealth of information on soil carbon stocks that will underpin Australia’s greenhouse gas accounting, carbon farming and sustainable agriculture.

  • 13 November 2009 | Updated 11 February 2014

Overview

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Introduction

Sampling sites in the Soil Carbon Research Program

Sampling sites in the Soil Carbon Research Program.

The Soil Carbon Research Program (SCaRP) was a nationally coordinated program of soil carbon research bringing together researchers from the CSIRO, Universities and State Government Agencies.

Funding was provided by the Australian Government’s Climate Change Research Program as well as the Grains Research and Development Corporation.

The SCaRP has been the largest and most extensive soil sampling and analysis program undertaken in Australia to measure stocks of soil carbon.

It has seen more than 20,000 samples taken from a wide range of soil types and farming operations across more than 4000 different locations in selected farming regions.

The project commenced in April 2009 and concluded in June 2012.

The SCaRP coordinated 13 soil carbon research projects that together establish a strong science basis for soil carbon measurement and accounting and for soil carbon enhancement (sequestration) opportunities. 

The SCaRP has been the largest and most extensive soil sampling and analysis program undertaken in Australia to measure stocks of soil carbon.

Key results

  • Results from SCaRP are contained in a summary report and reports for each of the 13 national, state or region-based projects.
  • SCaRP  developed a nationally consistent approach to assessing soil carbon stocks for some of the major landuse and soil type combinations used for agricultural production.
  • The Program realised rapid and cost-effective ways of assessing the total soil carbon, the amount of various forms of soil carbon and soil bulk density.
  • Land-uses and management strategies with higher soil  carbon stocks or potential for enhancing soil carbon were identified at regional level.
  • Quantification of the inputs of carbon to soils under agricultural systems based on perennial vegetation.
  • Data for further development of FullCAM, Australia’s national carbon accounting tool, was gathered through the Program.
A consistent method for sampling paddocks was across Australia and across different farming operations

A consistent method for sampling paddocks was across Australia and across different farming operations.

Read more about Soil carbon: the basics.

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