Charles Sturt partners with manufacturers and growers to tackle greenhouse gas emissions on-farm

26 OCTOBER 2020

Charles Sturt partners with manufacturers and growers to tackle greenhouse gas emissions on-farm

Charles Sturt joins Mars, Kellogg's, the Manildra Group and the Food Agility CRC to support farmers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as part of a three-year $2 million project.

  • Charles Sturt University has joined Mars, Kellogg’s, the Manildra Group and the Food Agility CRC in a $2 million project to support farmers to reduce GHG emissions.
  • Over three years the ‘Cool Soil Initiative’ will work with 200 wheat farmers from northern Victoria to Central West NSW.
  • The paddock to product partnerships will improve understanding of how crop management practices can mitigate GHG emissions on-farm.

Industry, Charles Sturt University researchers and agriculture leaders have joined forces to combat greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and help Australian farmers become more resilient in the face of climate change.

Initially piloted by Mars Petcare in 2017, the ‘Cool Soil Initiative’ is now welcoming major Australian manufacturers, Kellogg’s and Manildra Group, as well as leading researchers at the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation at Charles Sturt and Food Agility Cooperative Research Centre (CRC).

The $2 million ‘Cool Soil Initiative’ will work with 200 farmers from northern Victoria to Central West NSW the next three years to investigate new management practices that deliver a win-win for productivity and sustainability.

Niall BlairCharles Sturt Professor of Food Sustainability, the Hon. Niall Blair said the collaboration of key players across the grains supply chain has the potential for positive impact by improving soil health, productivity and profitability.

“Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing Australian farmers today and improving soil health is one of the top three management priorities on the agenda of growers in the region,” Professor Blair said.

“Over the next three years, if we can achieve a 0.1 per cent increase in soil carbon across 700,000 hectares of land, the impact could be close to removing 1.2 million cars from the road.

“We’re excited to collaborate in this paddock to product partnership, working with industry and grain growers in regional farming systems groups, to improve our understanding of how crop management practices can mitigate GHG emissions on-farm.”

While Mars and Kellogg's continue to work on reducing their factory GHG emissions, they have identified over 50 per cent of their emissions happen upstream from their manufacturing sites, from production and processing – including growing and milling – as well as transport of materials used in their products.

The project will partner with farming systems groups, Riverine Plains Inc, FarmLink Research and Central West Farming Systems to identify opportunities to reduce inputs and increase productivity, while also ensuring the long-term health of their most valuable asset, the soil.

Rennie district farmers Craig and Fiona Marshall said the project offers an opportunity to do their part in identifying opportunities to slow the pace of climate change.

“The soil tests performed as part of the project are measuring the carbon in our soils but also measuring other soil factors which may limit crop production so we can identify and ameliorate the problems and hopefully boost production,” they said.

“This is a long term project so we will have the opportunity to track our soils over time and identify changes in response to different farming practises we might try.

“Soil is a complex living ecosystem and the more we can learn about it the better off we will be.”

The project will also gather data to evaluate the online greenhouse gas calculator, Cool Farm Tool, to quantify emissions in an Australian farming context so we can effectively measure and track changes in farm over time.

Media Note:

To arrange interviews with Charles Sturt Professor of Food Sustainability Niall Blair contact Graham Centre communications officer Ms Emily Malone 0439 552 385 or email emalone@csu.edu.au

Founded in 2017 by Mars and the Sustainable Food Lab, the ‘Cool Soil Initiative’ provides agronomic support to wheat farmers in Australia, with the goal of minimising supply chain GHG emissions. The Graham Centre is an alliance between Charles Sturt and the NSW Department of Primary Industries.

Photo caption: (Image 1) Craig and Fiona Marshall from Rennie, NSW and (image 2) Charles Sturt Professor of Food Sustainability Niall Blair.

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