The Department of Environment has been busy over the last year making new greenhouse gas emissions reduction methods available for use under the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF). A number of these are designed to benefit the farming sector, including a ‘fertiliser efficiency in irrigated cotton’ method released in December 2014.  

The ERF is the federal government’s centrepiece for emissions reduction, and will be used to purchase lowest cost abatement. Participation in the ERF is voluntary and open to everyone. Interested parties must establish a project which must follow the rules outlined in a ‘method’.

The irrigated cotton method provides for projects to achieve emissions reductions by improving the efficiency of synthetic fertiliser use. Project proponents can choose a broad range of management actions that will achieve these emissions reductions.

With a number of methods being made available for use in the ‘land sector’ (across agricultural production as well as vegetation, and savannahs) and the ERF approaching the date for its first auction in March/April, project developers and carbon trading companies are working busily on developing large bids in order to participate. Growers and industry personnel may be aware of this activity and carbon farming promotion efforts to attract business.  

These are good developments for the ERF and growers wanting to become involved are encouraged to be fully aware of the requirements in undertaking a project: the risks, costs as well as the benefits.  Projects are contracted, long-term and based on the trade of a financial product. Working with trusted advisors and parties is therefore important.  

The cotton industry’s extension program - CottonInfo - has a number of researchers and technical specialists currently analysing the economics of participating in the CFI through an extension and outreach grant co-funded by the Department of Agriculture. 

Cotton Australia has engaged with the Department in their development of the cotton fertiliser method and along with CRDC, CottonInfo and key industry researchers have provided advice and industry-specific information.  The industry has encouraged the Department to align the method with myBMP practices relating to improving nitrogen-use efficiency.  Feedback is currently being providing on the Department’s ‘cotton-nitrogen emissions calculator’. 

The Australian cotton industry supports programs to reduce emissions through improving efficiencies and a first assessment indicates the draft method is technically sound. However growers need to assess the initial cost-benefits carefully and be aware that businesses in the carbon market are working to develop new services and products to help manage risk and reduce project implementation costs.  

The researchers, economists and technical specialists at CottonInfo eagerly await the results of the first Emissions Reduction Fund reverse auction in the coming months of this year to firm up the likely carbon price and revenue potential for future projects.

Anyone requiring further information is encouraged to contact Angela Bradburn at Cotton Australia (02 9669 5222, or CottonInfo Technical Specialist Jon Welsh (0458 215 335,

Learn more about Carbon Farming

Get more information about the government's Emissions Reduction Fund