Following a series of successful pilot projects agribusiness giant Cargill is set to launch a sustainable agriculture program to run across the Australian canola industry.
Ben Fargher, Cargill Australia Pacific environmental market lead, said the SustainConnect program was designed to link canola growers with new and emerging markets, while helping Cargill in catering to the rising demand from domestic and international customers for sustainable Australian canola.
Mr Fargher said SustainConnect would run in conjunction with existing sustainability frameworks, such as the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification.
"This will be about incentivising growers keen to improve their environmental outcomes, we see it as working as a layer on top of ISCC," Mr Fargher said.
"What this program will do is help you get your greenhouse gas baseline and measure ways that you are improving, with fertiliser management, cover cropping and tillage practices key areas."
To this end he said Cargill had partnered with leading carbon measurement business Regrow to measure, report and verify carbon outcomes using in-field data, remote sensing and crop and soil health modelling.
Farmers will be able to test the program without a lengthy lock-in period.
"We understand this is a fast-moving space and growers need flexibility and don't necessarily want to be locked in for lengthy periods, they can try SustainConnect and see if it works for them, with the agreements set up for one year."
Mr Fargher said the program would offer growers $25 a hectare to participate, subject to meeting the requirements, but there would also be other advantages.
"They will also have the opportunity to participate in environmental markets and supply chains which could unlock extra value for their product."
"As well as this there are obviously the productivity gains from improving farm systems, but also by helping the growers to independently measure their emissions they have the chance to layer this within their broader sustainability work and potentially use it to make carbon insets, offsetting other emissions."
He said although the initial focus in agriculture had been in carbon offsets, on-sold to others looking to minimise their carbon footprint there was now a lot of interest in the use of carbon insets within the farm business to help individual farm businesses towards net zero.
Mr Fargher said interventions covered under the program would include minimising tillage, cover crops and nutrient management.
"One of the main things we were absolute on was ensuring everything was practical and science based."
The decision to set up the scheme to work with canola was mainly down to Cargill's own position.
"We've got the crushing assets and a strong presence in the canola supply chain, so it was a logical fit for us."
Initially the program is only running in eastern and South Australia, which Mr Fargher said also related to Cargill's footprint.
"Our crush facilities are concentrated on the east coast, so that was the logical point to start."
There has been strong demand for such a scheme from both buyer and grower customers.
Mr Fargher said Cargill had made the decision to launch the program following successful pilots last year.
"We're hoping to make a significant step-up in terms of scale this year."
He said the company has its eye on other opportunities within the grains sector and was currently running barley pilots.
Growers who are interested in participating in Cargill SustainConnect have until 31 March to register.