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Analysis of the carbon footprint of Rural Funds Management’s livestock production

Did you know greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by improving feed quality and animal management to achieve weight gains?

Project start date: 20 January 2020
Project end date: 10 November 2020
Publication date: 06 July 2020
Livestock species: Sheep, Goat, Lamb, Grassfed cattle, Grainfed cattle
Relevant regions: National
Download Report (1.1 MB)

Summary

Rural Funds Management (RFM) is an agricultural fund manager working towards carbon neutrality in its livestock operations.

This project created a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions baseline for RFM’s livestock operations in Queensland and NSW, to create an industry case study for a large-scale beef and sheep producer. 

This report provides a summary and analysis of RFM’s calculated GHG emission outputs. These outputs were compared with other published studies and provide a benchmark for other producers.

Objectives

The primary objective of this project was to:

  • calculate RFM’s total livestock emissions and emissions intensity
  • establish baseline measures for each of their farm types
  • compare GHG results with similar farm enterprises in scientific literature.

Key findings

  • RFM’s emissions intensity declined between 2016-17 and 2018-19, which resulted in 10,994 tonneCO2e of avoided emissions by 2019.
  • In Queensland and New South Wales, their emissions intensity dropped by 43% and 17% respectively from 2016-17 to 2018-19.
  • There was evidence this reduction in emissions intensity was due to on-farm production efficiencies, such as improving feed quality and animal management to achieve increased weight gains.
  • The results show the improvements that have been made in emissions intensity over the past few years, which are indicative of the improved efficiency of the production system over time.

Benefits to industry

  • This project outlines a process which can be followed by other red meat producers who would like to take steps towards carbon reduction and neutrality.
  • This project also provides the industry with a case study of a large-scale beef producer and a cattle and sheep producer, which other Australian producers can use to benchmark their own emissions.
  • Increasing awareness of farm GHG emissions accounting and emissions reduction options.

MLA action

Insights collected from this project are informing MLA’s research, development and adoption activities under the industry’s Carbon Neutral 2030 initiative.

Future research

  • RFM could make further improvements on all properties through ongoing programs to increase forage quality and improve animal management. This could occur in conjunction with an analysis of carbon sequestration in trees and soils to improve RFM’s environmental profile.
  • Further research should examine trends over a longer period to negate the effect of seasonal conditions and to ensure these gains continue.

More information

Project manager: Douglas McNicholl
Contact email: dmcnicholl@mla.com.au
Primary researcher: Rural Funds Management Limited