The NSW Government has announced that contracts have been awarded to landholders in the Central West of NSW for a major Soil Carbon Sequestration Scheme pilot.


The pilot will be run in the region north of Cowra and includes the centres of Manildra, Canowindra and Cudal.


The aim of the pilot is to develop and test a Market Based Instrument (MBI) to sequester soil carbon in the Lachlan Catchment. The soil carbon MBI has been developed by NSW Department of Primary Industries and Office of Environment and Heritage, and was funded by Catchment Action NSW.


In a competitive tender process announced in June last year, farmers could choose to participate in the pilot through three different types of contracts, including:

• ‘actions-based’ contracts - which involve paying farmers to adopt specific practices to increase soil carbon stores;

• ‘outcome-based’ contracts - which involve paying farmers on the basis of the amount of carbon they actually store in their soil; or

• ‘hybrid’ contracts - which involve a combination of two previous options.


A total of 26 bids, to the sum of 11,455 tonnes of CO2-e, were submitted and 11 of these have been successful in gaining funding.  These 11 bids account for 7,819 tonnes of CO2-e, or 66 per cent of the total amount of carbon sequestration offered by farmers.


The farmers involved will be paid to store carbon in their soil by changing their land management practices across cropping and pasture systems.


A legal contract for the five-year project is in place between each of the landholders and the Lachlan Catchment Management Authority.


All farmers involved in the project are required to participate in annual reporting and monitoring and provide updates throughout the year.