Submission to the Department of Agriculture

Submission to the Agriculture and Land Sectoral Plan



As Australia moves towards a net zero economy, the agriculture and land use sector has an opportunity to lead the charge – both nationally and internationally – to ensure a sustainable future. The land use sector has been the main driver of Australian emissions reductions to date, and has become a net carbon sink (The Treasury, 2023). This has helped Australia to meet its Kyoto commitments and is keeping Australia on track to meet its Paris commitments, while enabling Tasmania to become the first state with net zero emissions (DCCEEW, 2022).

Australia advocated for the inclusion of the agriculture and land sector within these international agreements, including through Article 3.4 of the Kyoto Protocol. While the success in this sector is important it must also be recognised that methods such as soil carbon capture have limits, as explained in ATSE’s previous work on Australia’s soil carbon opportunities and risks. Between 1999 and 2006, the Australian Government invested in a Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) for Greenhouse Accounting, which provided much of the research underpinning the sector’s successes in emissions reduction.

ATSE commends the Australian Government for beginning this work to develop six sectoral plans to reduce emissions across Australian industry, and for its initial focus on the agriculture and land use sectors that will play a vital role in any emissions reduction plan. As the agriculture and land use sector manages around 50% of the land in Australia, leadership from the agriculture and land sector will pave the way for other sectors in creating real reductions in emissions without the use of carbon credits – supercharging new economic opportunities and ensuring the sector remains competitive in rapidly changing international food, beverage and fibre markets.

Australia can and should lead the world in developing sustainable farming practices and exporting our innovations across the world. To support the development and adoption of the best possible farming and land use technologies to support a sustainable transition in the sector, ATSE makes the following recommendations:

Recommendation 1: Develop a whole-of-landscape emissions accounting system, in line with the highest international standards.

Recommendation 2: Fund research into additives for feedstock that reduce methane emissions, including methods of making feedstock additives commercially and practically viable for farmers, through Australia’s Rural Research and Development Corporations

Recommendation 3: Provide support to farmers, through information, on-the-ground advisors and subsidies, to encourage the adoption of low-methane feedstock for livestock.

Recommendation 4: Fund measures to make pre-coating of nitrogen fertilisers standard for Australian agriculture, to reduce nitrous oxide release into the atmosphere.

Recommendation 5: Fund the installation and monitoring of technologies such as Flux Towers across Australia’s most important agricultural regions to ensure measurement of soil carbon is made accurately, on-location.

Recommendation 6: Provide long-term funding to Australian agricultural research through the RDC and CRC programs to support the agriculture sector through the net-zero transition and changing climates.