What is baseline soil carbon sampling and why it is important

Baseline soil samples are used to measure initial soil carbon stock levels, before implementation of activities that build soil carbon occur. These initial soil carbon measurements are used to determine the effect that implementing new activities has on soil carbon levels in the project area. Changes in soil carbon levels is established by measuring soil carbon levels in subsequent sampling rounds.

Baseline soil carbon sampling process including important dates and TIMEFRAMES

The Method sets out the requirements for baseline soil carbon sampling, including the recording of historical farm management practices, project area and mapping requirements, as well as laboratory sample processing requirements and important timeframes. Baseline soil sample measurements must be taken before the commencement of any project management activities and within 18 months of project registration (project declaration date). We plan to deliver baseline soil carbon sampling within a short timeframe (after completion of the sales contract or project declaration) so that project implementation can begin as soon as possible.

Soil Sampling Plans

Soil sampling plans are maps of the project area with random points indicating where soil cores will be taken for laboratory analysis. Soil cores are taken down to a depth of around one metre. Soil samples are sent to an accredited laboratory where tests to determine initial soil carbon levels are undertaken.

When reviewing a soil sampling plan, it is important to keep in mind:

  • Are we including all project areas? Yes / No

  • Are we including areas where no activity will occur? Yes / No

  • Within the project areas, are we including any existing or planned obstacles such as buildings, dams, large trees, roads, excessive slopes or any other features that would prevent the new activity or soil sampling from taking place? Yes / No

  • Within the project areas, would all areas be accessible by a ute with a soil core rig attached? Yes / No

  • We will be attempting to take a soil core to a depth of >1 metre - are you aware of any areas of near surface rock which would prevent the taking of a soil core? Yes / No

Subsequent soil carbon testing

After the baseline levels of soil carbon within the project area have been established (from the baseline soil sampling), and project implementation has begun, subsequent soil tests are taken to determine the change in soil carbon stocks. Subsequent soil sampling rounds take place on the anniversary of baseline sampling using the same soil sampling procedures as the baseline sampling. We are anticipating taking soil tests every two years for high intensity activity such as pasture cropping in good rainfall areas, pushing out to every four years for lower intensity activities such as grazing management in lower rainfall areas.

The results from subsequent soil sample tests are used to form a decision on whether to proceed with offsets report and ACCU application or to wait until the next round of soil sampling to submit a report and apply for ACCUs.