Farm Carbon Footprint: Over 90% Can Be Traced Back To This

Farm Carbon Footprint: Over 90% Can Be Traced Back To This

New Zealand’s pastoral farmers are adapting a program, Toitū Envirocare ( https://www.toitu.co.nz/ ), that is used to test and measure carbon footprint in order to make progress toward their own sustainability goals. 
Major companies in other sectors have already adopted Toitū Envirocare’s solution, including The Warehouse, SkyCity, Air New Zealand, and Mainfreight. The program allows a business to audit and verify what its carbon footprint is and analyze ways in which to reduce it.
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Low Carbon Means Big Opportunities 
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Toitū said that a certified low carbon footprint opens up opportunities for an increasing number of people who are choosing to buy or use sustainable products. As a case in point, Toitū has already worked with Fonterra on its Simply Milk product, marketed as New Zealand’s first carbon-zero milk ( Learn more ). 
Now that Toitū has developed a carbon certification program for pastoral farmers, more New Zealand farmers may follow suit. Toitū’s General Manager of Strategy and Partnerships, Steve Dixon, said that this will also help to meet the expectations of the New Zealand Government that each farm must know its carbon footprint by 2022.
Progress has been rapid
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Toitū has made rapid progress in this area, having first attempted to measure the carbon footprint of a farm ( Learn moreago. 
As Dixon explains, the trouble with farms is that “90 per cent of the carbon footprint is coming out of the front or back end of a cow or sheep.” 
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Measuring Carbon on a Farm 
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Fortunately, Toitū found that half of New Zealand’s farmers were already using a tool, Overseer, that helped them understand what the nitrogen and leaching of a farm might be. Overseer did this so well that Toitū was able to build on it as a foundation, eventually producing a solid carbon analysis of a farm. 
Together, Toitū, Overseer Limited, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ and Pāmu formed an advisory group to figure out how to extract Overseer’s data to use as an audit and verification tool to measure a farm’s carbon footprint. 
Verifying performance 
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Once Toitū has the data from a farm, the data are audited by AsureQuality in order to verify performance around carbon emissions and give advice on how to reduce them. Audits occur on a four-year cycle, with an initial four-hour farm visit to check the data submitted to Overseer. 
Then there are two more remote audits, and finally on the fourth year AsureQuality conducts an onsite inspection to complete the verification again. 
Dixon says Fronterra’s Simply Milk is a good example of a product that has been able to market low- or zero-carbon status. He says that New Zealand farms are already “relatively low carbon compared to others around the world but if you go to a major distributor and say, we are a low carbon business, they will want you to prove it.”
Dixon says that the farmers they are working with “are already in a very strong position, we have a good story to tell, and this will really strengthen our brand.” 
 

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