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Carbon storage

Work completed in the carbon storage includes activities aimed at increasing carbon sequestered in above and below ground biomass which will provide multiple benefits. Appropriate management practices can lead to increased land and animal productivity, as well as improved environmental sustainability.

Key measures of success in 2030

In 2030, success will be measured by:

  • At least three new commercially available legumes, shrubs or tree species able to store soil carbon, boost pasture productivity and live weight gain in livestock.
  • Soil carbon storage levels in 30% of grazing lands increased by 50–100kg CO2e/ha/year.
  • Integration of shade and shelterbelts on 10 million hectares (southern Australia focus) of available 355 million hectares of grazing area nationally, increasing livestock productivity by 10% and storing more than 25MT CO2e emissions per annum.
  • Investigation of alternative means of regrowth control that maximise carbon storage without reducing productivity.
  • Promotion of cost effective agroforestry systems for dual benefits.

Current activities

MLA in collaboration with industry, government and research partners, is investing in research, development and adoption projects to enable industry to move toward the CN30 target.

Examples of research activities include:

  • developing new legumes, pastures and shrubs to build feedbase and carbon stocks
  • advancing soil carbon sequestration methods and measurement technology
  • improving integration of trees and shrubs for improved carbon storage, animal health and biodiversity
  • optimising vegetation regrowth management
  • optimising carbon storage in dead woody biomass
  • improved accounting of woody thickening in National Greenhouse Gas Inventory
  • investigation of carbon storage increases from dung beetle activity in grazing lands.

Carbon Storage Partnership Projects

All active research projects funded under CN30 Carbon Storage Partnership are described below. MLA has many other investments in this field across other portfolios - from Feedlot to Feedbase. To explore all investments across MLA, search via the MLA directory.

To contact project leads, please email with your request.

Sustainable Pathways to CN30


University of Tasmania


To enable the research, development and adoption of multiple greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions mitigation interventions for economic, environmental and social benefits of livestock grazing systems. The project will quantify the benefits of biodiversity, natural capital and environmental stewardship for enhancing grazing land management as well as quantify the economic, environmental and social effects of multiple GHG emissions whole farm abatement options. Producers will be equipped to understand regionally-specific GHG emissions mitigation practices to enable them to derive revenue from environmental services and/or natural capital markets. Increased industry use of data and evidence to inform production led outcomes will assist the red meat industry in progressing towards the CN30 target.

Data platform for increasing soil carbon in Australian agricultural systems


Agrimix / QUT


Current methods to measure soil carbon in agriculture are costly and, in many cases, inaccurate due to spatial variability of farming landscapes. Agrimix, in collaboration with Australia’s leading soil and greenhouse gas institution, QUT, are developing a measure-model-verify (MMV) technology that enables lower cost and higher accuracy soil carbon measurement. The technology being trialled are eddy flux towers; an in-field device that can estimate changes in soil carbon by measuring carbon dioxide 'respired' from the soil.

Queensland University of Technology’s Program Leader, Professor Peter Grace, said even a small annual increase in topsoil carbon over the 300 million hectares of pastoral leases in Australia could potentially offset Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions from all sources.

The project will also deliver farm management tools never before available, allowing farmers to understand the ecosystem’s response to normal and extreme conditions (e.g., rain, drought) and to management decisions (e.g., rotational grazing or introduction of improved pastures).

Time controlled grazing for soil C sequestration and improved ecosystem services




To determine if time-controlled grazing can increase soil C stocks and improve delivery of ecosystem services, leading to increased production-led environmental outcomes and more producers deriving revenue from natural capital trading markets/environmental services.

Carbon flux towers will be used to estimate the changes in carbon in the landscape by sampling the air above the paddocks on high clay soils in 500-800mm rainfall areas across 1,700km of Eastern Australia. The data will be combined with soil carbon models and remote sensing images to generate landscape-scale data for carbon markets and decision making. In addition to this, biodiversity will be monitored using bioacoustics, identifying species present from the sounds they make, with the measures compared with landscapes which do not use time controlled grazing.

Maximising co-benefits of trees on farm


University of Melbourne


To quantify the value of integrating trees into livestock operations and assist farms in making informed decisions, to increase adoption of tree planting that meets objectives for enterprises as well as contributing to the CN30 target. This will be achieved through literature reviews, on-farm interviews with producers and whole farm carbon accounting and modelling of productivity impacts. The project will provide resources on the available information on the impacts of integrating trees into farming operations, with a focus on carbon and productivity benefits. A decision framework will be developed based off on-farm interviews with producers that will include resources to assist with the implementation and incorporation of adoptable products and information. Case study modelling on multiple enterprises will assist in quantifying the carbon and productivity implications of incorporating trees into farming enterprises. Read more

Steak ‘n wood: demonstrating livestock productivity and environmental service benefits of trees on farm in northern systems




To quantify the productivity and ecosystems services of silvopastoral

systems (SPS), a dual management of livestock and trees as a pathway to achieving the CN30 target. The project will connect the beef and forest industries across tropical Queensland northern NSW to examine the potential of SPS to mitigate GHG emissions, enhance income diversification and increase livestock productivity, enhance land use, improve animal welfare and improve overall on-farm biodiversity.

This will be achieved through investigating optimal conditions for the establishment of SPS in native forests and pastures, improving the existing carbon calculator tools by more accurately estimating carbon sequestered in trees, evaluating the financial and economic performance of SPS as well as the potential for SPS as an alternative for mitigating woodland thickening issues.

Hyperspectral remote sensing of soil organic carbon


Perennial (formerly Cloud Agronomics)


This project identified whether hyperspectral-driven remote carbon measurement has accuracy comparable with that of physical soil coring and lab analysis at quantifying field-level soil organic carbon (SOC) content and demonstrate that the approach is significantly more cost effective than current approaches. The project will involve conducting field soil sampling at specific georeferenced locations in southern Australia and comparing results from carbon quantification with remotely sensed data collected using manned-aircraft flights. The outputs from the investment include a hyperspectral approach for quantifying SOC data, a report of model calibration and validation, and an economic analysis of the cost of implementing the new approach. Read final report.