A leading Tasmanian greenhouse gas researcher is seeking 10 farms, around Australia, to be included in a two-year study to develop practical ways of reducing emissions.
Carbon Storage Partnership director Associate Professor Matthew Harrison is heading up the national carbon-neutral modelling study.
He said the study would offer livestock producers tailored information on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a profitable and sustainable way.
"What we are really looking for is a cross-section of farms, big corporate farms of 20,000 animals to typical family farms of 100-200 head of beef cattle," Assoc Prof Harrison said.
"In that way we can compare farm size and intensification across enterprises."
He said the national study would also seek to compare agro-ecological regions.
"That's important because different areas in Australia will have different prospective pathways to reducing emissions
"For example in the high rainfall regions in the south, such as Tasmania, you might expect growing trees and improving soil carbon would be an obvious avenue.
"In central Australia, where you are dealing with 50,000 beef cattle and you see them once a year - if that - there might not be any viable options for growing trees, or sequestering carbon, simply because the rainfall is too low.
"Feeding animal supplements like red algae might not be viable because you don't see the cattle often."
Each participant would provide information on livestock and pasture production, soil types, finances, management, location and size.
The data would be kept confidential and used to calibrate and validate a range of economic, biological, physical and climate models.
A number of adaptations, partly suggested by the case study farmers and industry representatives, would be modelled and refined wit the participants, over two years.
"We really want the farmers to tell us what they are interested in and we will model what they tell us in a package of interventions."
He said that information would include such things as plant growth and herd management.
Economists would model rate-of-return and growth in wealth, as well as depreciation of assets.
"If your climate is becoming warmer and drier, carbon prices are going up and we are seeing the rapid emergence of biodiversity and environmental markets, to what extent can you gain revenue from these markets to supplement, or buffer the effects of drought on your productivity or commodity base?"
He said the study would also look at what motivated farmers to adopt low emissions technologies.
"Are they more motivated by profitability and generational sustainability - what motiviates people to think about trying to reduce their emissions?"
"One reason is the banks.
"The banks say if you want a loan, they want to know what your emissions are and how good you are about looking after your natural capital.
"The other reason is markets, the consumer is demanding a carbon neutral product."
The research team aimed to produce highly detailed, scientific modelling of whole farm practices, that may improve profitability and productivity, while reducing net farm greenhouse gas emissions.
The models would be communicated through on-farm field days, webinars, newsletters and other multi-media formats.
"Importantly, the research will demonstrate how whole farm adaptations can improve biodiversity, vegetation, soil carbon stocks and overall environmental stewardship," he said.
"These adaptations will ultimately define pathways to carbon neutrality and beyond."
The study was aiming for regionally specific adaptations for carbon neutrality.
"There will be no one-size-fits-all, there will be no blanket solution.
"We put a lot of effort into developing two or three scenarios for each farm."