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Carbon Baseline Workshop Review

On the 15th March 24 people from 13 farm businesses came together to participate in “The Baseline Workshop!”. The first event for our Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) Producer Demonstration Site funded Carbon Neutral 2030: Getting Started on Farm project.

Carbon baseline workshop with Jan Clawson and Richard Brake

The day started with a presentation by MLA’s Sarah Strachan. Sarah is Group Manager for Adoption & Commercialisation.

Sarah took us through how the CN30 target came about. The original Australian baseline was conducted in 2005 since then our emissions have reduced by 60%. This is predominantly from land management in Queensland and on farm efficiencies. Unlike New Zealand, our system is completely voluntary with no government enforcement. It is hoped Australian agriculture will be proactive and stive to achieve or at least work toward carbon neutrality.

Sarah finished by announcing MLA has launched an online, web-based greenhouse gas (GHG) calculator. The calculator is based on the Sheep and Beef Greenhouse Accounting Framework (SB-GAF) tool. Melbourne University developed the calculator and continue to update the excel version of the tool. It is often referred to as the PICCC tool.

Project consultant, Richard Brake from Richard Brake Consulting, then took us on a rapid learning journey on carbon baselines. Richard started with some of the terms like the Greenhouse Gases (GHG), Global Warming Potential (GWP) and Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (CO2-e).

Then we went on to understanding the various “Scopes” and how they relate to each other. Scope 1: is your business emissions, Scope 2: is emissions from the electricity used by your business, Scope 3 is broken into two, Upstream: emissions from purchase in goods and Downstream: emissions from post farm gate sources like meat processors.

Richard has completed a calculator comparison trail; he took us through how the various calculators preformed. The Melbourne Uni PICCC tool performed well. While it is available to use now, it is still in a development stage so is constantly being updated as more information becomes available, and feedback received.

We then went onto the information required to complete the SB-GAF PICCC tool. It starts with livestock numbers on farm each quarter, any livestock purchases or sales, the percentage of cows calving or ewes lambing, if mineral supplements were fed and urea fertiliser used on pastures and crop, fuel and electricity use and any feed purchases. There is also a section on wool production and feed availability. In the first instance Richard recommended completing the calculator using the default feed availability numbers, they can be changed later if you want to go into more detail.

This data all comes together on a summary page with your Net Farm Emissions. This is your baseline!

Enteric methane emissions is the big one in a livestock production system. Richard spoke on ways to reduce enteric methane. These include anti methanogenic pastures and pasture composition but probably the most important factor is production efficiencies like shorter turn off time.

Richard finished with information on Carbon Projects the process involved in setting up a carbon project, the rules around them, the issues to consider before signing any of your land up to a 25-to-100-year carbon project.

Rabobank’s Crawford Taylor joined us via zoom. Crawford talked about the commitment Australia has sign along with 200 other countries to be Carbon Neutral by 2050. China & India are not part of the 200 countries. He said Rabobank are a member of the United Nations convened Net-Zero Banking Alliance which brings together a global group of banks which are committed to aligning their lending and investment portfolios with net-zero emissions by 2050. He also mentioned Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF) have a data quality score ranging from 1 to 5. Level 1 being audited. An unaudited GAF is regarded as a level 2. So, completing a SB-GAF baseline carries some benefits. Crawford finished with a great question and answer session which help everyone bring the information of the day together.

The next step for our workshop participants is to complete their own baseline. We will meet again as part of a tour to Katanning (25th - 27th of July 2023). Mandy Curnow will take us through the Katanning Research Station CN30 journey to date and the strategies they are implementing. We will look at their revegetation, pasture rejuvenation, the methane shed feed efficiency research, and the Feed365 project pasture trials.

CN30 project partner logos


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