Carbon Farming

Australia’s Green House Gas (GHG) emissions reduction target is to reduce its emissions by 26-28 per cent of 2015 levels by 2030. Australia's target is achievable with Direct Action policies that reduce emissions, increase energy productivity and improve health of souls and the environment.

As pare of the Direct Action policies, The Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) was launched to provide a range of business sectors including land, coal, energy and transport the opportunity to earn income through emissions reductions as well as have other environmental outcomes. 

What is Carbon Farming? 

Simply put carbon farming is any change to agricultural or land management practices that can reduce emissions such as nitrous oxide and methane, or store additional carbon in vegetation and soils.

These changes in practices can provide many benefits to landholders. These can include earning Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs), through the ERF – which can be sold and provide another income stream to landholder – as well as increased profitability, production and biodiversity.

What is the ERF?

The ERF is an Australian Government voluntary offset scheme – allowing for the sale of carbon credits to the Australian Government. 

The ERF provides an opportunity for farmers and land managers to earn additional income and achieve other benefits by reducing greenhouse gas emissions or capturing and storing carbon from the atmosphere.

Many farmers and land managers have already benefited from this scheme. To date, over two-thirds of the contracted emissions reductions in Australia have come from the land sector. This represents an $811 million injection of funds into rural Australia. 

The ERF is administered by the Clean Energy Regulator (CER).

What benefits can carbon farming provide?

Farmer and Landholder Benefits:

  • Additional income from the generation of Carbon Credits 
  • Improved productivity
  • Efficiency gains & quicker stock turnoff
  • Better soil health and reduced salinity


  • Healthier rangeland vegetation
  • Cleaner waterways
  • Better biodiversity
  • Lower greenhouse gas emissions

What is happening in other states?

The way that carbon farming functions in each state is impacted by state legislation, policy and procedures. However, various projects and programs from across Australia are being investigated to see if they can be adapted for use in the South Australian Rangelands.
Natural Resources SA Arid Lands recently completed feasibility and case studies with landholders to work out what might be viable in the Rangelands. 

Case studies - carbon farming feasibility assessments in the SA Arid Lands region

In 2016 12 SA Arid Lands pastoral properties undertook workshops to explore the viability of carbon farming on their properties compared with their current pastoral business activities. Feasibility studies were undertaken on properties representing beef, meat sheep or wool sheep herds in each of these main land systems.  These case studies are an outcome of this work. 

Carbon Farming
Climate Change and Carbon Economy Extension in SA Arid Lands

Carbon Neutral Pastoral Production in the SA Arid Lands
Climate Change and Carbon Economy Extension in the SA Arid Lands

Rangeland Beef Production and Carbon Farming
Beef cattle enterprises of less than 20,000 ha

Rangeland Beef Production and Carbon Farming
Beef cattle enterprises of greater than 120,000 ha

Meat Sheep Production and Carbon Farming
Meat sheep enterprises of less than 20,000 ha

Wool Production and Carbon Farming
Small wool enterprises of less than 50,000 hectares

 Wool Production and Carbon Farming

Large wool enterprises greater than 150,000 ha  

More information

For more information head check out our resources and useful resources and links page or find out more about the Natural Resources SA Arid Lands Carbon Project.

Landholders in the SA Arid Land who are interested in exploring options for carbon farming should contact the staff at Natural Resources SA Arid Lands on 8648 5300.