Soil carbon

Soils contain the largest terrestrial reservoir of carbon (C) on the planet, holding three times the amount stored in vegetation and twice as much as that present in the atmosphere - and have the potential to sequester more.

Soil organic carbon (SOC) is a critical factor in soil health, leading to improved productivity, profitability and resilience.

By growing our understanding of SOC we could unlock the potential of carbon in soils as a way to help mitigate climate change.

The aspirations of the State Climate Change Strategy and the goal for Adelaide to be the world’s first carbon neutral city could be significantly supported through soil carbon sequestration.

Soil organic carbon can be increased through adding clay to sandy soils, changing agronomic practices and addressing subsoil constraints on heavier soil types.


PIRSA is working and collaborating on a number of projects including trials aimed at:

  • determination and opportunity assessment for organic carbon stocks of South Australian soils including clay modified soils
  • understanding the driving factors for changes to organic carbon stock after soil modification
  • knowledge gap assessment for modelling of soil carbon in modified soils.

Knowledge gap assessment for soil carbon and greenhouse gas abatement for South Australian clay modified soils is jointly funded by Goyder Institute for Water Research and the Department for Environment, Water and Natural Resources.

Improving subsoil constraints through innovative amelioration to sequester carbon supported by Eyre Peninsula Natural Resource Management Board through funding from Australian Government and Rural Solutions SA (project code AOTGR2-0099).

Perennial pasture management systems for soil carbon stocks in cereal zones supported by Upper North Farming Systems, through funding from the Australian Government and CSIRO, Eyre Peninsula Natural Resources Management Board and Rural Solutions SA (project code AOTGR1-0044).

Projects have included input and investment from Department for Environment and Water (DEW), Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), Goyder Institute for Water Research, farming systems groups, the Agricultural Bureau of South Australia, Landcare groups, various regional Natural Resource Management Boards, and the Australian Government.

More information

DEW Climate change and carbon sequestration

Page Last Reviewed: 21 Sep 2017
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