Organic carbon

Organic carbon

Surface layers of Australian soils are generally low in organic matter which is known to improve soil productivity by supplying nutrients and improving water holding capacity. Farm practices that increase soil organic carbon are desirable and their adoption is on the rise in the Wheatbelt.

How can we monitor progress?

At Wheatbelt NRM Inc. we have searched for data that can help us monitor the status of soil organic carbon (SOC). At the top level we can directly monitor the carbon stocks in surface soil layers. Behind that, we can monitor the adoption of farm management practices that encourage increases in SOC.

Adoption of no-till

Cumulative adoption of no-till (decision to first use no-till) across WA. Graph re-drawn with permission from Adoption of no-till cropping practices in Australian grain growing regions, 2010 published by GRDC.

Improving soil organic carbon through farm practice

The table shows the area as a proportion (%) of total holdings by region of farm businesses where different management practices were undertaken in the 2013-2014 season. The businesses include all agriculture i.e. broad acre and intensive animal and horticultural enterprises. ManageSoil Qualityment practices presented are those that are considered important in determining the amount of organic carbon present in agricultural soils (GRDC, 2014).

Source: Soil Quality LAND MANAGEMENT AND FARMING IN AUSTRALIA 2013-2014 dataset. The Australian Agricultural Environment (AAE) regions called “Mediterranean west” (AAE15) and “Wheatbelt west” (AAE16) cover the entire cleared portion of the Wheatbelt NRM region but also encompass a much broader area outside the region. 

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