Partnering to drive change
Agriculture is an important component of the Australian economy, with the country’s 85,000 farming enterprises producing approximately $A60 billion worth of goods each year1. With the sector responsible for approximately 13 per cent of the country’s total emissions, reducing its emissions intensity will be important if Australia is to meet its commitments under the COP 21 Paris Agreement2.
In 2018, MAM joined with the CEFC, an Australian government specialist clean energy financier, and the CSIRO, a world-leading scientific institution, to form the Energy, Emissions and Efficiency Advisory Committee (3EAC). The first-of-its-kind initiative was borne out of a common aspiration from all parties to support innovation and embed sustainable farm management practices across the industry.
Using its extensive portfolio of agricultural assets to pilot and prove up new technologies and processes, MAM is supporting the 3EAC as it seeks to demonstrate that low emissions and climate adapted farming can be conducted without compromising objectives and returns. In doing so, it is hoped that the 3EAC led initiatives will help pave the way for future investments in the currently capital constrained sector and help reduce the overall emissions intensity of agriculture in Australia.
Backing best practice
Elizabeth O'Leary, Head of Agriculture
Testing new ideas
As the first project undertaken, the 3EAC has overseen and advised on the construction of an emissions calculation tool known as FarmPrint, with development conducted by the CSIRO.
FarmPrint is an emissions efficiency tool that allows a farmer to input operational information pertaining to their farm in order to calculate the intensity of their current emissions footprint, or “FarmPrint”. The FarmPrint tool calculates the ratio of emissions relative to land area and the volume of crop output that is produced for an individual farm.
To assist with the development of FarmPrint, MAM supported a pilot programme for the tool at Viridis Ag – a MAM operating company involved in broadacre row cropping in Australia. By calculating the carbon footprint of its farms on both an absolute and per tonne of output basis, the pilot was an important first step in helping to understand the operational levers that can be adjusted on individual farms in order to produce a better carbon outcome. At Viridis Ag, this saw the use sustainable farming methods such as stubble retention and zero tillage to sequester more carbon in the soil when compared to traditional tillage farming methodologies.
It is hoped that FarmPrint will enable Australian agricultural producers to monitor improvements in efficiency over time, whilst understanding how their performance compares with their regional peers. In doing so, FarmPrint should assist Australia’s agriculture sector to reduce emissions and support the transition to a low-carbon future.