School of Agricultural and Resource Economics

Social and bioeconomic analyses of carbon farming




Kragt, M.E., Pannell, D.J., Robertson, M.J. & Thamo, T. (2012) Assessing costs of soil carbon sequestration by crop-livestock farmers in Western Australia, Agricultural Systems, 112: 27-37. DOI: 10.1016/j.agsy.2012.06.005

Massam, G.L., Burton, M., Kragt, M.E. (2013) Public preferences for the co-benefits of carbon farming.  Paper presented at the 57th annual conference of the Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, Sydney, 4-8 February 2013




We estimate the biophysical and socio-economic consequences of climate change mitigation by farmers.

The Australian ‘Carbon Farming Initiative’ (CFI) aims to encourage new farming practices that can store carbon, or reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Example practices that may be funded under the CFI include:

  • Storing carbon in vegetation by planting trees or perennial shrubs.
  • Reduce emissions by changing the management of landfill, manure, livestock, or fertiliser.
  • Storing carbon in soils through use of perennial crops and pastures, no-till systems, rotational grazing and pasture cropping.

It is unclear how changing practices will affect farm businesses. Private landholders, as well as the general public, may have different preferences for different carbon farming practices. 

We do research into socio-economic questions related to carbon farming in Australia.

Funding: The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), University of Western Australia

Period: August 2010 to June 2015

Soil carbon sequestration

This is a bioeconomic modelling project. We use the APSIM model to predict the impacts of farming practices on soil carbon sequestration. The results are combined with results from whole-farm economic modelling in MIDAS.


Combining these models allows us to analyse the trade-offs between farm profits and soil carbon sequestration. Such information is needed to predict what compensation farmers would need to encourage soil carbon sequestration.

Public preferences for carbon farming methods

This project uses socio-economic surveys, to investigate the public’s preferences for different carbon farming practices. Public benefits from carbon farming could include:

  • Climate change mitigation
  • Environmental co-benefits (eg improved soil health, biodiversity, landscape regeneration)
  • Auxillary social benefits (eg supporting rural landholders)

We use a choice experiment survey to estimate the public welfare impacts of carbon farming. This information can help determine whether some practices have higher social values than others.

Farmers' adoption of carbon farming practices

This topic contains several sub-projects in which farmers are interviewed or surveyed about their willingness to take up carbon farming practices.

We investigate the reasons for adoption, and barriers to adoption.  Reasons could include:

  • Generating additional farm income
  • Looking after the environment ("doing my bit")
  • Improving soil health

Barriers could include:

  • Uncertainty in government policies
  • Not enough carbon farming methodologies approved
  • Permanence requirement under the CFI
By investigating which carbon farming options are more or less likely to be adopted, and why, we can help to better target existing carbon farming policies.
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