In 2023, ASHEEP & BEEF took up a new project, 'Carbon Neutral 2030: Getting started on farm', a Meat & Livestock Australia Producer Demonstration Site. Producers involved in the project now have an emissions profile for their farm completed and are putting together plans to reduce their net farm emissions.
Involvement does not commit producers to becoming carbon neutral, their aim is to understand where the farm is at and make the intial steps to work toward the livestock industry's Carbon Neutral by 2030 (CN30) target.
Project Facilitator Jan Clawson interviewed Alan Hoggart to get his thoughts on completing a farm emissions profile.
Alan & Bec Hoggart
Alan and Bec Hoggart run a shedding sheep enterprise in the Condingup area, east of Esperance on the south coast of Western Australia.
Why did you join the project? “I wanted to become more informed on carbon. I was interested in completing an emissions profile to understand why livestock were being portrayed as the bad guys and to be able to stand up for livestock production,” Alan said.
Following the first project workshop Alan completed his first carbon emissions profile using the Primary Industries Climate Challenges Centre (PICCC) Sheep and Beef Greenhouse Accounting Framework (SB-GAF) tool.
“We run, what I would call, a medium sized basic sheep only enterprise so I found completing the calculator a simple exercise. I know my sheep numbers for each time of the year, so it was straightforward to complete, especially with no wool to consider.”
Alan estimated the calculator took less than two hours to complete. He had to go through the diary for a few things and he did round some of his sheep numbers, but being sheep only made it easy. “Probably the only thing that took a little more work was the herbicide figure.”
The calculator asks for kilograms of active ingredients per enterprise. Alan knew how many litres of herbicide he’d sprayed so it was a quick calculation to get it back to active ingredients weight.
What is your advice to someone thinking about completing a carbon emissions profile? “Complete the tool for your own interest, so you know where you sit. Just do it! Get informed and keep learning,” Alan said.
Alan found the percentage pie chart and the data summary table interesting. Seeing where the information came from and identifying what might be able to move or be reduced. Alan wants to lower his emissions and understand what’s involved so he can better inform non-agricultural people and defend the livestock production industry.
In the original emissions profile Alan averaged his ewe weights. After weighing 50 sheep he found they ranged from 75kg to 105kg. He entered this information into the calculator which increased his enteric methane figure. This left Alan wondering if he could save emissions by running more 75kg ewes which produce the same number of lambs, and therefore, whether the heavier ewes were less efficient.
The Hoggarts’ feedbase is predominantly permanent pastures, and the farm has a small pine plantation and an area of native bush. Over the years they have increased the farm’s soil carbon from 1% to between 3–4%. Not all these points can be captured in the current calculator, but the calculators are still evolving.
The Hoggarts haven’t yet identified a specific strategy to reduce carbon emissions, but Alan is thinking that a way to increase production might be to plant shelter belts against the prevailing winds across the farm, which is quite close to the coast. This could contribute to increasing their lambing percentage. They have also considered planting trees on marginal land to sequester carbon.