Are you curious about soil carbon or confused about carbon farming?

Our online self-paced courses are for Australian agricultural producers and their trusted advisors.

On-farm research trials with growers

Our research strategy includes trials into granulated compost, foliar urea, time-controlled grazing, and multi-species cover crops.

Our team

Our Board Directors, Staff, and Research Committee Members have extensive experience across the agricultural industry, academia, community and government.

Soil carbon education

Our Research Committee and Staff include experienced educators passionate about sharing knowledge to empower farmers. 

We bring farmers and scientists together to increase soil carbon and reduce emissions for profitable and resilient farms. 

 

SoilCQuest 2031 is a research institute of farmers, agricultural and soil scientists, agro-ecologists, agronomists, educators, and business, communication and extension specialists.

We are not-for-profit and for-impact, working to realise the carbon drawdown potential of agriculture. 

Our multi-disciplinary Board, Research Committee, and staff have extensive experience across the agricultural industry, academia, business, community, and government.

Connect with us on social media

Bringing farmers

and scientists together

At SoilCQuest 2031, we believe soil carbon is a key metric of success for farm productivity and profitability. 

We conduct on-farm research trials with growers to validate innovative climate-smart practices.

 

Our agricultural resources uncover how to grow soil carbon, and unpack farm emissions and carbon projects.

We are unapologetically ambitious to fulfil our quest for soil carbon sequestration, at speed, at scale.

 

We are passionate about working with farmers to build resilience and profitability by building soil carbon.
SoilCQuest 2031 is a grassroots research institute of scientists, farmers, agronomists, business, communication & engagement specialists.
Our not-for-profit organisation has a vision for the future of a movement of farmers working to realise the global carbon drawdown potential of agriculture.
To make this future a reality, we bring farmers & scientists together to research grower innovations that build soil carbon.

Soil is our most important natural carbon sink

Soil plays a vital role in the global carbon cycle, storing around twice the amount of carbon than the atmosphere and three times that of vegetation. Small percentage changes in the soil organic carbon pool can significantly affect the global carbon cycle by changing the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Source

Global carbon storage in Gigatons (Gt)

Watch our story :
SoilCQuest presents Carbon Calling

Our Exemplar Farms program supports farmers who are developing innovative climate-smart practices.

We measure and validate these systems and practices through the three lenses of:

  • economic viability
  • soil carbon and emissions-reduction science
  • adoptability

Our  team works on the ground with landholders, understanding farm culture and the drivers and barriers to innovation.

Agriculture can be a Gigaton carbon drawdown industry

The Drawdown Framework has analysed and modelled 100 climate solutions that exist today to reduce and sequester emissions. Their calculations estimate that by shifting agricultural practices, by 2050 the global agricultural industry could reduce emissions by up to 26 Gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent (Gt-CO2-eq) and sequester up to 193 Gt-CO2-eq.
Source
Shifting agricultural practices worldwide by 2050 would

For carbon drawdown to help reverse climate change, we need emissions reduction

“Drawdown” is the term used to describe the future point in time when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and start to steadily decline. We cannot reach Drawdown without simultaneously reducing emissions toward zero and supporting nature’s carbon sinks to sequester or drawdown carbon from our atmosphere.

 

Source
Reaching “Drawdown”

Farmers we work with

Mick Wettenhall

Weemabah Trangie, NSW

Broad-acre cropping and grazing Trangie, Western Plains NSW Average rainfall 468mm

The early 2000s saw Mick start work on his father-in-law’s 10,500-acre cropping and grazing farm in Trangie, New South Wales. Uninspired by the model of industrial agriculture and curious to find a different way of doing things, Mick began taking courses to broaden his understanding of regenerative farming and experimenting with innovative practices. Over the last twenty years, Mick has transitioned the farm from purely conventional methods to a more holistic approach.

Mick’s current methods include applying fungal-rich liquid compost extract, cover cropping, and multi-species companion planting. These approaches aim to improve soil health, fertility and water holding capacity, increase resilience to pests and diseases, decrease weed pressure, and reduce reliance on harsh agricultural chemicals.

Stuart McDonald

Canowindra, NSW

Broad-acre cropping, merino sheep and Illawarra dairy cows Canowindra, Central NSW
Average rainfall 602mm

Stuart is a fourth-generation farmer on 1400 hectares in Canowindra, NSW. Stuart’s family took ownership of the property in 1888 and has been there ever since. Stuart grows dry-land crops, including wheat, canola, barley and chickpeas, and raises merino sheep and Illawarra dairy cows.

In 2020, Stuart transitioned the family farm to a zero-till approach as a way of helping maintain ground cover. Canowindra experiences a non-seasonal distribution of rainfall, so making the most of the rain available is vital to extending the growing season of his crops. Stuart selects varieties based on their suitability for the rain’s timing, and is currently experimenting with summer cover crops and different companion planting combinations.

Steve Nicholson

Forbes, NSW

Broad-acre cropping and grazing, Forbes, Central West NSW
Average rainfall 426mm

Steve and his wife bought their property 22 years ago and now run a successful farm business with their two sons. They own and lease 3,500ha and grow wheat, barley, canola and occasionally legumes, long-term perennial pastures, and have 4,000 head of merino sheep.

Steve’s background as an Agronomist means he has a thorough understanding of agricultural science and knows that healthy soils are everything. A long-standing focus on improving soil health and structure since the Millennial Drought meant that Steve’s farm continued to be profitable throughout the tough seasons we’ve had since.

Steve does not believe in relying on a perfect year but instead depends on ensuring his farm is resilient enough to withstand unpredictable but inevitable harsh weather events. His approach involves a balanced strategy for managing the land, using groundcover methods and good chemical applications that don’t destroy the soil.

Wood Family

Manildra, NSW

Grant and Carmen, Luke and Belinda, Alex and Kate Manildra, Central West NSW Average rainfall 625mm 1740 Ha (owned/leased/share-farmed)

Wheat, barley, oats, canola, chickpeas, sorghum, Angus cows and Merino 1st cross ewes.

The Wood Family has been in the Manildra district for 20 years, moving from the Blayney area in 2001. Their focus is on improving soil health through zero till and CTF on 9m. A diverse rotation of cash and grazing crops and livestock are integral to the ongoing goal of increasing soil organic carbon and decreasing bulk density. Shifting soil characteristics in that direction will help to bolster the resilience of the overall business.

With a background in Agronomy, Luke and Alex are proactive in trying new ideas and technology to improve their farming system. The Woods family strive to reduce synthetic inputs, particularly fungicides and insecticides, to allow beneficial soil biology to express.

Mick Wettenhall

Weemabah Trangie, NSW

Broad-acre cropping and grazing Trangie, Western Plains NSW Average rainfall 468mm

read more
The early 2000s saw Mick start work on his father-in-law’s 10,500-acre cropping and grazing farm in Trangie, New South Wales. Uninspired by the model of industrial agriculture and curious to find a different way of doing things, Mick began taking courses to broaden his understanding of regenerative farming and experimenting with innovative practices. Over the last twenty years, Mick has transitioned the farm from purely conventional methods to a more holistic approach.

Mick’s current methods include applying fungal-rich liquid compost extract, cover cropping, and multi-species companion planting. These approaches aim to improve soil health, fertility and water holding capacity, increase resilience to pests and diseases, decrease weed pressure, and reduce reliance on harsh agricultural chemicals.

Stuart McDonald

Canowindra, NSW

Broad-acre cropping, merino sheep and Illawarra dairy cows Canowindra, Central NSW
Average rainfall 602mm

read more
Stuart is a fourth-generation farmer on 1400 hectares in Canowindra, NSW. Stuart’s family took ownership of the property in 1888 and has been there ever since. Stuart grows dry-land crops, including wheat, canola, barley and chickpeas, and raises merino sheep and Illawarra dairy cows.

In 2020, Stuart transitioned the family farm to a zero-till approach as a way of helping maintain ground cover. Canowindra experiences a non-seasonal distribution of rainfall, so making the most of the rain available is vital to extending the growing season of his crops. Stuart selects varieties based on their suitability for the rain’s timing, and is currently experimenting with summer cover crops and different companion planting combinations.

Video Stuart McDonald ‘Belmont’ Canowindra

Steve Nicholson

Forbes, NSW

Broad-acre cropping and grazing, Forbes, Central West NSW
Average rainfall 426mm

read more

Steve and his wife bought their property 22 years ago and now run a successful farm business with their two sons. They own and lease 3,500ha and grow wheat, barley, canola and occasionally legumes, long-term perennial pastures, and have 4,000 head of merino sheep.

Steve’s background as an Agronomist means he has a thorough understanding of agricultural science and knows that healthy soils are everything. A long-standing focus on improving soil health and structure since the Millennial Drought meant that Steve’s farm continued to be profitable throughout the tough seasons we’ve had since.

Steve does not believe in relying on a perfect year but instead depends on ensuring his farm is resilient enough to withstand unpredictable but inevitable harsh weather events. His approach involves a balanced strategy for managing the land, using groundcover methods and good chemical applications that don’t destroy the soil.

Wood Family

Manildra, NSW

Grant and Carmen, Luke and Belinda, Alex and Kate Manildra, Central West NSW

Average rainfall 625mm 1740 Ha (owned/leased/share-farmed)

read more

Wheat, barley, oats, canola, chickpeas, sorghum, Angus cows and Merino 1st cross ewes.

The Wood Family has been in the Manildra district for 20 years, moving from the Blayney area in 2001. Their focus is on improving soil health through zero till and CTF on 9m. A diverse rotation of cash and grazing crops and livestock are integral to the ongoing goal of increasing soil organic carbon and decreasing bulk density. Shifting soil characteristics in that direction will help to bolster the resilience of the overall business.

With a background in Agronomy, Luke and Alex are proactive in trying new ideas and technology to improve their farming system. The Woods family strive to reduce synthetic inputs, particularly fungicides and insecticides, to allow beneficial soil biology to express.

Agriculture has the greatest carbon drawdown potential

Shifting our agricultural practices could sequester the most amount of greenhouse gases globally by 2050, by supporting our natural carbon sinks of soil and vegetation.

 

Source
Shifting agricultural practices could sequester the most Gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2050

Our story

SoilCQuest is a for impact research institute, collaborating with research and industry partners on farm systems innovation and education. Achieving our goals will result in viable, climate smart agriculture and agribusiness resilience.

Founded in 2012 by Guy Webb, Mick Wettenhall and Mark Shortis, SoilCQuest 2031 was established to develop a microbial inoculum from a carbon-capturing fungus discovered in our soils. This discovery that melanised endophytic fungus sequesters long-lasting soil organic carbon around plant roots was made by Professor Peter McGee of the University of Sydney.

SoilCQuest became a CSIRO Approved Research Institute in 2015.

When he retired, Professor McGee generously gave his soil fungi library to SoilCQuest for their research into developing the microbial inoculum, which included a comprehensive pot trial at the NSW Department of Primary Industries Orange facility, numerous small-scale pot experiments and 10 field trials, including small plot and strip trials. When inoculated onto the roots of crops via a seed dressing, this microbial inoculum draws down atmospheric carbon. It is a practical and scalable technology for farmers to increase their soil carbon.

With promising results from these research trials, in 2019 Guy Webb and Mick Wettenhall raised investment for this technology and formed Loam Bio with Guy Hudson, Tegan Nock and Frank Oly. Loam Bio is a global commercial enterprise at the intersection of agriculture, climate change, and microbes. By developing these technologies, Loam Bio puts agriculture at the forefront of improving soils and our climate.

SoilCQuest continues as an approved research institute and a major shareholder in Loam Bio.

Support Our Work

SoilCQuest is an independent, for purpose, not-for-profit organisation bringing farmers and scientists together to increase soil carbon and reduce emissions for profitable and resilient farms. Your donation will support our research endeavours, enabling us to champion farming as a solution to climate impact through initiatives, including our Carbon Farmscapes Program.

Gifts made to SoilCQuest are tax deductible.

Welcome to Country

Acknowledgement of country

SoilCQuest 2031 acknowledges and pays respect to the past, present and future Traditional Custodians and Elders of this nation and the continuation of cultural, spiritual and educational practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Artwork by Warlukurlangu artist Anthony Jangala Hargraves ©
Anthony Jangala Hargraves/Copyright Agency, 2023

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