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

Kragt M.E., Blackmore L., Capon T., Robinson C.J., Torabi N. & Wilson K.A. (2014) What are the barriers to adopting carbon farming practices? Working Paper 1407 School of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Western Australia, December 2014




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 2016

Achieving least cost greenhouse gas emissions abatement – opportunities for Australian grain farms

The potential for Australian grain farms to sequester carbon in their soils may not be achieved because practices that maximise soil carbon content may reduce farm profitability or fit poorly within the traditional grain farm management system.

We use the APSIM model to predict the impacts of different farming practices on soil carbon sequestration and agricultural greenhouse gas emissions from soils. The results from this are then used in a whole-farm economic analysis such that we can:

  • Determine the whole-farm financial effects of practices to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions
  • Identify the most profitable and productive farm management systems applicable to Australian grain farms that maximise greenhouse gas abatement 

Combining the APSIM modelling results with the economic analyses allows us to understand how soil carbon sequestration, greenhouse gas abatement and farm profitability in grains systems could be affected by a range of farm management practices. Policy makers and farmers can use this information to maximise the impact of potential greenhouse gas emissions abatement and farm profitability in grains production.

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.

School of Agricultural and Resource Economics

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Last updated:
Monday, 16 March, 2015 11:25 AM