NATURAL Carbon's Julien Gastaldi has spent the past three years working with corporate cattle herds, helping them work with the government's methodology to earn carbon credits from the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF).
"We started to explore the Beef Cattle Herd Management Methodology with the corporates because they have the scale to make the system work," he said.
But that valuable groundwork looks as if it will translate to smaller herds being able to aggregate their numbers with the big players to include their emissions reductions across much larger numbers.
To become eligible herds must calculate their ratios of kilograms of methane output against kilograms of liveweight production.
An average over the last three years is calculated to set the "emissions intensity" benchmark that each herd must beat.
Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCU) can be earned for the next seven years by performing better than their benchmark.
He said emissions reductions came with productive herd management, including:
- increasing the ratio of weight to age of the herd;
- reducing the average age of the herd;
- reducing the proportion of unproductive animals in the herd;
- changing the ratio of livestock classes within the herd to increase total annual liveweight gain of the herd.
"You can reduce the average age of the herd and remove unproductive animals, you want to improve your productivity by maximising your live weight gain per head," Mr Gastaldi said.
He said cattle young ensured the most weight gain.
"Younger animals are the most efficient converters of feed to weight. In one year they're going to go from 150 kilograms to about 300kg.
"Your sweet spot is probably a bunch of one or two-year-old animals on good pastures with good access to water."
He said corporate operations could spread their risk across states.
"If you've got stock across Victoria, NSW, Queensland and the Northern Territory you can probably bet one of those regions is going to have a good year, and in doing so cover the fixed administrative and audit costs of participation for the others," said Mr Gastaldi.
His company's work with Paraway Pastoral since March 2016 paid off last week at the 2019 Carbon Cocky Awards.
Paraway Pastoral took home the Outstanding Achievement by a Primary Producer in Emission Reduction award, as the first participant under the Beef Cattle Herd Management Methodology.
They have already produced 62,892 ACCUs
Other big companies Natural Carbon is working with includes Consolidated Pastoral Company and AACo, amounting to about a million head in total
He said Paraway has since offered two of their herds to be used to establish a new model that other producers could join.
Mr Gastaldi said farmers with herds of 5000 or more with sufficiently robust data records could join that aggregation and hopefully as the project grew it could include any grazier.
He said he felt participation in the scheme could be grown to two to three million heads without a lot of effort, which would represent about 10 per cent of the national herd.
But he said pushing it to five million would take some support by both the industry and governments.