The Future Carbon Project

The Future Carbon Project

The project aims to trial, measure and demonstrate crop sequencing and new technologies that can sequester organic carbon (C), mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and improve soil fertility in crop production systems that have traditionally struggled to accumulate carbon. 

Four large-scale field trials will be used across the WA Wheatbelt and Northern Ag regions to assess soil management and amelioration technologies, and various crop sequence approaches will be utilised to build soil carbon and improve soil health.

The project seeks to determine if these new soil management practices can enable growers to participate in carbon trading schemes.

Commencement: 2022 | Completion: 2024

Funding body(s): Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) & The CRC for High Performance Soils (Soil CRC)
Project Lead Organisation: Western Australian No-Tillage Farmers Association (WANTFA) Project Collaborators: West Midlands Group, Murdoch University, Facey Group, Corrigin Farm Improvement Group, The Liebe Group


The West Midlands region is atypical of the Northern Agricultural Region of WA as annual rainfall is greater than 450mm and its sandy soils often limit production by nutrient leaching, soil water repellence, low nutrient levels, and compaction. This can be attributed to the low percentage of clay particles consistent with sandy soils, resulting in poor holding capacity of nutrients and moisture.

The sandy soils of this region typically hold 50 to 90 mm of moisture in the top metre and are highly prone to haying off. Any opportunities to increase the water and nutrient holding capacity of the soil would likely lead to a consistent increase in grain yield.

2022 Season – Biochar & Frass

The Wathingarra trial site will evaluate a range of organic amendment options available to farmers to increase soil organic matter. While most amendment or amelioration methods have been evaluated in isolation, this trial site will evaluate the stacking of many combinations of amendments and amelioration methods. The hypothesis is that the synergistic benefits of a multiple amendments will lead to a long-term increase in soil health and crop grain yield.

While many farmers will be familiar with the use of soil amelioration or compost to improve soil health, two novel organic amendment options are the main the focus of this trial. The use of black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens, BSF) has been under evaluation for the conversion of organic waste into high-quality fat and protein meal. The by-product of this bioconversion process is called ‘frass’ and is made up of insect faeces, substrate residue and shed exoskeletons. Frass can have a rapid, positive impact on the carbon and nitrogen (N) dynamics and microbial activity of the soil.

Biochar has attracted attention for sequestration of C and rehabilitation of degraded soils. Biochar is a by-product generated from burning plant material under a limited oxygen supply. This process produces biochar, similar in appearance to charcoal, and has an estimated life in the soil of more than 1,000–2,000 years. The addition of biochar to soil can increase the stable organic carbon content of the soil and over time can increase the nutrient and water holding capacity of the soil.

The combination of biochar and frass offer the opportunity to apply a shorter-term organic amendment (Frass) that reacts with the soil quickly along with biochar, which has longer term benefits and is generally more inert. This study will assess the impact of these on both ameliorated and non-ameliorated soils with differing levels of background fertility.


Want to get involved?

Get in touch with our Mixed Farming Systems Officer, Melanie Dixon.

Mobile: 0459 353 840