North Burnett ranchers unlock carbon credits with the help of innovative agricultural technologies | Queensland Country Life

As Australia moves to become carbon neutral by 2050, Queensland farmers are taking their own steps by embracing technology to reduce their carbon footprint in the meat industry.

Following the trauma of the millennial drought of 2001-2010, North Burnett beef producers, James Henderson and his father, John, chose to explore new ways to manage their land sustainably.

The Hendersons operate a 5,400 hectare ranching and seeding operation spread over three estates in the North Burnett and Central Queensland areas.

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While beef remains at the heart of their business, the family also oversees two carbon farming projects, which they say have provided significant secondary income to their Colodan ranching property near Monto since 2018.

The drought behind the management overhaul

Mr Henderson said the loss of productivity of their pastures and livestock during the drought had underscored the need to rethink their farming practices.

“Coming out of this millennial drought, we started to do a lot of things differently. The Burnett area suffered a lot and our properties suffered, so we started to change our management practices, ”said Mr. Henderson.

“My wife Kylie and I have started to use several regenerative practices – linking economic, ecological and social considerations into an overall strategic vision.

“Our on-farm carbon agriculture projects consist of avoiding large-scale deforestation activities and implementing practices to repopulate and regenerate our eucalyptus forest areas.

“The resulting dynamic tree-grass balance has allowed our Colodan property to become more resistant to major weather events such as drought and extreme precipitation events.

“We have a better bottom line for that and we get paid to grow our trees, where it was a cost.”

PROSPERE: James Henderson with his wife Kylie and their three children Douglas, Thomas and Emily at their Colodan breeding property near Monto.

By implementing these practices known to improve the rate at which carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere and converted to plant and soil organic matter, the Hendersons have earned Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) which can be sold to provide additional income on their Monto property.

Limited impact on beef production

Mr Henderson said they were very confident that these carbon farming projects intertwined well with their beef operation, without harming their overall beef production.

“The trees on our property are a great asset, and we don’t see them as a handicap. We have established carbon forestry companies using the same land as our existing cattle ranching business, ”he said.

“We have been able to generate significantly higher income than in the past, which indicates the higher price we receive for our livestock due to improved livestock productivity.

“We are currently looking at our fourth year of below average precipitation and this is critical to how we manage our carbon projects because you need to keep an eye on your vegetation cover and maintain that environment as best you can. “

PROVEN EFFICIENCY: The Hendersons use GPS MOOvement earrings, which allows them to track and trace their livestock over long distances.

PROVEN EFFICIENCY: The Hendersons use GPS MOOvement earrings, which allows them to track and trace their livestock over long distances.

Harness innovative technology to help you

Mr Henderson said their interest in agricultural technology arose when they needed alternative systems to track the movements of their herd.

“We currently use three major technological devices in our properties. These include the Observant water monitoring stations, used to monitor water levels in our livestock troughs, another is AgriWebb, a farm management software, which maintains our inventory and inventory planning, and we also use GPS Moovement beacons, which track the movement of our stock, ”he said.

“We hope that we can reach a cumulative point in a few years, where we can look back and analyze the data from the GPS beacons. This will ensure that we can help maintain that balance between carbon and our beef that we produce.”

Earlier this year, James joined Ag Force’s Young Producers Council, a group of young beef producers aged 18 to 40, to provide a representative voice for all young producers striving for success. in agriculture.

Mr Henderson believes there is huge potential for farmers to tap into the growing carbon market.

“Agriculture should be part of the climate solution, as long as we don’t run out of opportunities. As producers, we need to understand the options available to our operations,” he said.

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