Projects under this method can earn Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs) by increasing carbon stored in soil. This carbon comes from the breakdown of:

  • plants

  • microorganisms

  • animal waste.

When to use this method

The estimation of soil organic carbon sequestration using measurement and models method (2021 soil carbon method) may be suitable for your business if you:

  • can store carbon in soil in a grazing or cropping system, including perennial woody horticulture
  • will undertake one or more new land management activities to increase soil carbon
  • can measure the increase in soil carbon.

You can find out more about this method by referring to our full 2021 soil carbon method guide


Advance payments

An advance payment worth up to $5,000 is available for eligible and new projects under this method.

The advance payment is:

  • for upfront costs of soil sampling
  • for new projects with a carbon abatement contract
  • for new baseline soil sampling only
  • available once per project.

Land must meet eligibility requirements to run a soil carbon project on it. Land is eligible if:

  • it’s used for pasture, cropping, perennial horticulture (such as wineries) or is bare fallow during the baseline period
  • soil carbon can be increased through new land management activities
  • you can access the area to sample the soil
  • there's at least 30cm of soil.

Eligible land can be included in carbon estimation areas (CEA) when you undertake project mapping. This means that you can earn ACCUs for increasing soil carbon stocks in the land by introducing a new management activity.


Land is ineligible if it:

  • is forest land, or has forest potential, and participates in another ACCU Scheme sequestration method that isn't a soil method
  • has buildings
  • contains organosols, also known as peat soils
  • was subject to clearing of native forest cover or draining of a wetland within 7 years prior to registration application. This exclusion period is reduced to 5 years for properties that have changed ownership since the clearing or draining.

Ineligible areas of land can’t be included in CEAs. You won't earn ACCUs for increasing soil carbon stocks in these areas of land.

Method requirements

This method credits ACCUs for increases in soil carbon from one or more new, or materially different, management activities.

Activities under this method include:

  • applying nutrients to the land through fertiliser
  • applying lime to remediate acid soils
  • applying gypsum to remediate sodic or magnesic soils
  • undertaking new irrigation
  • re-establishing or rejuvenating a pasture by seeding establishing or pasture cropping
  • establishing, and permanently maintaining, a pasture where there’s previously no or limited pasture
  • altering the stocking rate, duration or intensity of grazing
  • retaining stubble after a crop is harvested
  • converting from intensive tillage practices to reduced or no tillage practices
  • modifying landscape or landform features to remediate land
  • using mechanical methods to add or redistribute soil
  • using legume species in a cropping or pasture system
  • using a cover crop to promote soil vegetation cover or improve soil health or both.

Undertaking one or more eligible activities may not result in soil carbon increases. Crediting depends on demonstrating an increase in soil carbon above the baseline level.

Projects under this method are subject to permanence obligations.

You must submit a land management strategy when:

  • registering your project
  • adding new areas to a project
  • transferring to the 2021 soil carbon method from another soil carbon method.

You must engage with an independent soil sampling technician. The technician is responsible for extracting and preparing any soil samples.

Make sure your soil sampling technician understands the requirements in our sampling guidance for measurement-based soil carbon methods. Improper sampling can impact ACCU crediting.

For reporting purposes, the technician needs to complete and sign our written statement document

You must notify us of:

  • sampling locations - these must be provided to us before each sampling round
  • events that change the management activities and to your land management strategy - you must notify us within 60 days of becoming aware of the change
  • project area activities conflicting with section 11 or 12 of the method - you must notify us within 60 days of becoming aware of the change.

25 years.

Net abatement is calculated by measuring change in the soil organic carbon content of your CEA and comparing it to the baseline. It excludes increases in project emissions.

Baseline soil sampling estimates the soil carbon levels at the beginning of your project. You then conduct additional sampling rounds every 1-5 years.

Project emissions occur when certain project management activities that build soil carbon – such as livestock, tillage, synthetic fertiliser or lime application – create emissions.

Soil carbon stocks must be estimated using specified soil sampling methods or using the specified hybrid approach that combines soil carbon model estimates with soil sampling.

Samples must be measured for soil carbon content using specified laboratory techniques or calibrated in-field sensors.

Additionally, 4 discounts apply to soil carbon projects:

  • ‘specified probably of exceedance’
  • temporarily withheld credits from the first reporting period
  • risk of reversal buffer
  • permanence obligations.

You can learn more about discounts in the understanding your soil carbon project - simple method guide

These discounts reduce the risk of overestimating stored carbon and the overcrediting of ACCUs. The ongoing discounts decrease as the certainty of soil carbon estimates increases.

You must monitor details of the:

  • project livestock
  • tillage
  • harvested product
  • removed crop residues.

You must also monitor all inputs of:

  • fertiliser
  • biochar
  • lime
  • electricity
  • fuel.

You must keep records of:

  • land management activities
  • the person involved in soil sampling
  • the project’s land management strategies.

You can nominate the intervals of your reporting periods. These can be from 6 months to 5 years.

After submitting an application, you need to conduct baseline soil sampling within the first reporting period or within 18 months of land being added to an existing project area.

Your report must include:

We provide you with an audit schedule when your project's declared.

You must provide audit reports according to this schedule.

We schedule at least 3 audits, and additional audits can be triggered.

For more information on audit requirements, you can refer to our audit information.