Organic carbon

Organic carbon

Surface layers of Australian soils are generally low in organic matter which is known to improve soil productivity by supplying nutrients and improving water holding capacity. Farm practices that increase soil organic carbon are desirable and their adoption is on the rise in the Wheatbelt.

How can we monitor progress?

At Wheatbelt NRM Inc. we have searched for data that can help us monitor the status of soil organic carbon (SOC). At the top level we can directly monitor the carbon stocks in surface soil layers. Behind that, we can monitor the adoption of farm management practices that encourage increases in SOC.

Adoption of no-till

Cumulative adoption of no-till (Western agro-ecological zones).

Data Source: Llewellyn RS, Ronning D, Ouzman J, Walker S, Mayfield A and Clarke M (2016) Impact of Weeds on Australian Grain Production: the cost of weeds to Australian grain growers and the adoption of weed management and tillage practices. Report for GRDC. CSIRO, Australia. Available at

Disclaimers: The WA central and eastern regions roughly correspond to the Wheatbelt NRM region.

Improving soil organic carbon through farm practice

The table shows the area as a proportion (%) of total holdings by region of farm businesses where different management practices were undertaken. The businesses include all agriculture i.e. broad acre and intensive animal and horticultural enterprises. Management practices presented are those that are considered important in determining the amount of organic carbon present in agricultural soils (GRDC, 2014).


Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics Land Management Practices Survey (LaMPS) 2013-14, 2015-16 and 2016-17.


Disclaimers: The Australian Agricultural Environment (AAE) regions called “Mediterranean west” (AAE15) and “Wheatbelt west” (AAE16) cover the entire cleared portion of the Wheatbelt NRM region but also encompass a much broader area outside the region. *Data recorded from 2013-2015 are reported as an average of the two regions while the latest data are based on NRM regional boundaries.

Exploring organic carbon

Click here to view the map in full screen

The map shows the major soil attributes across the region.

Source: Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Soil Quality, CSIRO.

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