Research & Extension
Partnering with a range of leading research and extension organisations.
Mars Petcare through the Sustainable Food Lab
The Australian Cool Farm Initiative aims to promote the long-term productivity and quality of broadacre cropping systems using management practices that reduce on-farm greenhouse gas emissions. It also aims to benefit all partners along the value chain.
The Australian Cool Farm Initiative is hosted by the Riverine Plains Inc and Central West Farming Systems groups, in collaboration with Mars Petcare and the US-based Sustainable Food Lab.
The Australian Cool Farm Initiative was initiated by Mars Incorporated, as part of a global commitment to reduce the environmental impacts of their business, specifically through the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Mars have focused their climate change actions in the parts of the business which involve producing and purchasing agricultural raw materials. In Australia, Mars is a significant purchaser of grain, especially wheat, which is used in the Mars Petcare division.
Mars have committed to working with grain growers throughout southern NSW and north-east Victoria, to develop a program that brings value to farmers, promotes low emission management practices, improves soil carbon and invests in the long-term future productivity of the industry
Mars have engaged the Sustainable Food Lab in the USA to deliver this project, in partnership with an Australian coordinator. The Sustainable Food Lab is an independent, international organisation that works with large companies to improve their sustainability and reduce their environmental footprint.
Riverine Plains Inc and Central West Farming Systems
The Sustainable Food Lab have partnered with Riverine Plains Inc and Central West Farming Systems to deliver this program. These groups will connect with farmers interested in monitoring and managing their greenhouse gas emissions.
Participating farmers receive support in the use of the Cool Farm Tool (https://coolfarmtool.org/), an online calculator that enables farmers to measure their greenhouse gas emissions and understand mitigation options for agricultural production.
The Cool Farm Tool works by providing growers with the ability to plug in their farming practices, receiving immediate feedback on the impact of different management options using “what-if” scenarios.
The Cool Farm Tool derives emissions estimates from empirical (observed) data. Originally initiated by Unilever, a number of the world’s largest food and beverage businesses and non-government organisations now cooperate in the Cool Farm Alliance. This membership organisation is dedicated to spreading the use of the Cool Farm Tool by farmers in order to support emissions reductions from global agriculture.
Benefits to participating farmers
Farmers who participate in the program receive GPS located soil testing services on up to 5 locations on their farms each year, along with technical support for interpreting Cool Farm Tool results and soil tests. Farmers also receive advice on management options that address key limiting factors in their farming systems, focusing on recommendations that result in productivity, managing for weed resistance, water availability in dry years, and short and long-term carbon benefits.
How can you be involved?
Farmers interested in this program are can contact Jane McInnes, Riverine Plains Inc on 03 5744 1713 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Mars Petcare with project support from the Food Lab, has become the first company to deliver a case study measuring carbon using the new Gold Standard protocols (standards designed to meet the global GHG reduction goals set forth in the Paris Agreement). For more information, please visit https://sustainablefoodlab.org/food-lab-supports-mars-petcare-to-achieve-climate-smart-wheat-supply-chain/
Trial Book reports
An article summarising key results from 2018 and 2019 has been published in Research for the Riverine Plains, 2020 and can be downloaded by clicking the following link: Australian Cool Farm Initiative results and learnings from the Riverine Plains