While academics lob tomatoes at the "adolescent" carbon trading market, and project co-ordinators, who defend their abilities to unite buyers with growers, quietly go about their business, carbon farmers continue to grow more grass.
The title "Regen Ag" has an ability to raise eye-brows from detractors, much like the cult of muck and mystery. But when alternative management styles work to boost production, farmers pay attention.
At Tabulam on the Upper Clarence, Tim and Louise Dougherty are less interested in the name and more keen on the results.
"We're not chasing carbon credits," Mr Dougherty explains. "I'm not worried about the market at the moment. I'm doing this because I believe I'm farming in a less harmful way and will be more sustainable in the long term. And I honestly believe we are growing a lot more grass than before - certainly a lot more than in 2017, perhaps by 20 per cent."
There is more labour involved, moving cattle every couple of days and for the past 10 months Mr Dougherty has entered data into a management program - Maia Grazing - which takes his inputs on biomass, rainfall, paddock size and grazing units: cows with calves carrying twice the impact of yearling steers.
Paddocks are measured using a small cage to retain an un-grazed portion to compare. Cattle go in when pasture is shin-high and are kicked out at ankle-high.
"We take the top off so it's not going rank," he says. "While ever the grass grows the roots are working and that's the whole point of it."
The 2019 fires ran through the farm and provided a clean slate from which to rebuild and that was when new internal fences were built, aided by single strand wires to bring that paddock size down even further. In summer cattle are rotated through every 30 days, and that figure doubles as the season wanes.
As farmers like the Dougherty family grow more carbon in their soil they will surpass their farm's requirements to offset emissions and can take advantage of that green commodity by selling it to the highest bidder. Game producers can forward sell but must understand they are responsible for the carbon or they will have to pay.
Carbon project developers like Natalie Hicks, Natural Capital Co, are confused by academic attacks on the emerging market, given the Australian regulator's historical commitment to improvement.
"None of the claims coming out are substantiated and they are not peer-reviewed," she said.
"The Human Induced Regeneration method of carbon sequestration has been refined again and again. Old projects need to be reviewed and that is what is taking place."
Things to consider as a carbon farmer are the constantly changing methodologies being demanded of growers. A simple soil test now looks to involve something called Bulk Density measurement, which might mean that a single 30cm soil sample night not be good enough to qualify for Australian Carbon Credit Unit recognition. Meanwhile the ability to "stack" different projects on top of each other is under review and should allow farmers to sell soil carbon credits while pursuing approved savannah burning or tree planting programs over the top of that initial human induced regeneration.
Ms Hicks says climate talks in Glasgow have created a "new normal" around carbon trading that will take into account on-farm emissions from imported fertiliser and chemicals.
Meanwhile, the value of the voluntary carbon market as of last November stood at $1 billion, after growing 6pc year on year while analysts are now predicting that figure to grow to $10- $50b by 2030, quadrupling in the following decade. The speculative market is more bullish and predicts $480b by 2050.
To further clarify these concepts the NSW DPI will host the 2022 carbon forum for primary producers at Orange and Canowindra from April 11.
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