Carbon neutral is the goal

03-May-2010

A desire to make their farm carbon neutral is at the forefront of an environmental management plan being developed by Michele Prince and Phil Lally for their Savannah Lamb operation in the Clare Valley.

Michele and Phil believe it could take up to three years to be sure the lamb business they operate on the 800 ha farm – on which Phil and his parents also grow wheat, oats, barley and produce hay for export – is having no adverse impact on the environment. But they are determined to get there.

“We have to assess the situation first and work out how much carbon we need to offset,” Phil says. “We’re already trying to be as low impact as possible by only burning stubble when necessary, using minimum tillage and as few chemicals as possible, planting woodlots and rotating pastures. We intending planting more woodlots and doing everything we can to ensure the property is sustainable.”

Michele, who participated in an Australian Land Management Group workshop in Clare in April, intends making carbon neutrality one of the main goals in an environmental management plan for the couple’s Savannah Farm, which produces White Suffolk-Merino crossbred lambs for the gourmet meat trade.

“Ideally, we would like to be carbon neutral by 2012,” Michele says. “But it may take a little longer, depending on how much we have to do. A few years ago, Phil started planting eucalypts as part of a river revegetation system. This acts as an effective carbon sink, so – among other things – we’re planning to do more of that in the future.”

While not being aware of other properties seeking such a goal, she believes carbon neutrality may become an aspiration for more landholders in the future.

“There’s no doubt that environmental considerations are going to be more important in the future,” she says. “We are caretakers of the land we’re on, and want to ensure we leave it in better nick for future generations. Our whole operation is based on a stress-free approach. We don’t use bikes or dogs around the sheep and hand-feed grain to supplement pasture when we’re finishing off the lambs.”

Michele, a graduate of the Swiss Hotel School and a qualified chef, is a member of the SA Office for Youth, Primary Industry and Resource’s Ignite program, which helps young people to build sustainable agribusinesses. 

Ignite members in four regions of SA attended ALMG workshops in April. In about 12 months’ time, participants who proceed to certification under the ALM Group program – the only independently audited, whole-of-farm certification system in Australia – will have their properties externally audited to the international ISO 140001 environmental standard.

“Environmental certification is an opportunity to differentiate your operation from others,” Michele believes. “I see a definite economic advantage in having the farm certified. Increasingly, consumers want to know where their food is coming from and I think that over time more people will see the merits in certification. We want to be ready when that happens.”

For more information about the Australian Land Management Group certification program, contact Julia Telford (07) 4671 7900 or 0427 580 399 or visit www.almg.org.au


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