Carbon farming – meet the farmers and their new crop

Aussie farmers can get paid to integrate native plantings into their farm plan through carbon farming practices.

There’s a new crop on the market for Australian farmers, and it has the potential to help tackle local and global environmental challenges.

Farmers around the country are integrating it into their existing farm plans and using it to help diversify their incomes.

For many of us, we know this crop as native trees and shrubs. Now, they’re part of a growing carbon farming industry.

Native tree plantings with paddocks and cows in the background.

Image credit: Annette Ruzicka

Making financial and environmental gains with carbon farming

Carbon farming has become one of the major buzz terms in Australian agriculture. But as more organisations offering carbon projects emerge, farmers interested in signing up are increasingly wary of how best to navigate this complex market and ensure they are doing the right thing for their property and their bank account.

And here’s the catch – while every Australian Carbon Credit Unit (ACCU) produced represents one tonne of carbon dioxide removed from or avoided entering the atmosphere, not all ACCUs are equal.

A person carrying a tray of native seedlings plants one in a cleared landscape

As they grow, native trees and shrubs capture carbon and store it in their branches, stems, leaves, barks and roots. Image credit: Toby Peet.

In August 2023, a historic deal for carbon credits sourced from an environmental plantings project traded for nearly double the generic market price.

For those watching the market closely, it’s an indication that a growing number of buyers are increasingly willing to pay more for higher-integrity credits, like those created through environmental plantings.

When done right, the environmental planting method enables landholders to achieve multiple benefits such as habitat for native birdlife, improved soil health and water quality, shade and shelter for livestock, carbon sequestration and income diversification.

An image of a Buff Rumped Thornbill

Native birds like this Buff Rumped Thornbill are good indicators of a healthy ecosystem. They help control pest insects in pastures and crops, and also make farms more attractive places to live and work. Image credit: Jennifer Goldsworthy.

Meet the landholders already carbon farming

Ten years ago, Clint Dolan was farming a patch of his Nyabing (WA) property that is now virtually unusable for cropping or grazing due to rising salinity. It’s a story that would sound all too familiar for many in WA’s great southwest, where salinity is a growing concern in vast tracts of agricultural land.

But a booming Australian carbon market is making it possible for farmers like Clint to be paid to treat salt-affected areas by increasing vegetation cover with salt-tolerant native species.

“We’ve got 60 to 65 hectares of saline land with some good pockets of loamy country through it, but basically it’s non-productive land,” Clint said.

“At the moment, we’re not really getting any grazing value … so anything we get off the land at this point is going to be a bonus,” said Clint. “We’re getting Greening Australia in and we’re planting that land in shelter belts using native species – salmon gum, white gum and then saltbush through the salty country – to basically regenerate the land.”

Close up of Old Man Saltbush (Atriplex nummularia).

Old Man Saltbush (Atriplex nummularia) is an unsung multi-tasking hero. Saltbush helps rehabilitate salt-affected soils, is a fodder plant for stock, and forms an important part of biodiverse, carbon-storing ecosystems.

Clint is planning to put stock back in the revegetated area for grazing once the trees are established in five or so years.

On the other side of the country, farmers like Tim Annand – a cattle grazier in NSW – are also working with Greening Australia to implement biodiverse carbon plantings for erosion control, livestock shelter and improved pasture management.

“My aim was to get the stock out of the gullies and stabilise them, with reduced run-off raising those gullies and raising the water table. The planting is of great benefit, and if carbon’s going to help pay for it, it just adds up,” says Tim.

Aerial view of planting lines beside a creek on a NSW farm.

Strategically designed native carbon plantings on Tim Annand’s property (pictured) will help reduce erosion and raise the water table. Image credit: Toby Peet.

Choose the right partner

At Greening Australia, we help farmers and landholders like Clint and Tim to implement fully funded environmental carbon plantings. Our plantings are backed by science, generate multiple benefits and are tailored to each property.

As one of Australia’s leading environmental not-for-profits, we’ve spent 40-plus years doing good for Australian landscapes and farmers. Now, by tapping into well-established and emerging environmental markets, we’re unlocking new solutions to scaling our impact for people and nature.

Got carbon farming questions? Learn more about how carbon farming works.

We work with landholders around the country. Hear from more of them about how Greening Australia is helping to integrate native plantings into their farm plans.

Interested in a no-obligation chat about a planting on your property?

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