Carbon neutrality achieved in farms without compromising productivity

A University of Melbourne study has helped farmers reduce the carbon balance on their farms.

Mark Wootton and Eve Kantor run 25,000 Merino ewes and 300 Poll Hereford breeders on 3,378ha at Hamilton, Victoria.

After being approached by researchers, they were interested to see how their wool, lamb and beef business could operate in a ‘zero carbon’ global economy.

Wootton said he had serious concerns about the risk of climate change for an intensive system like theirs.

READ: New projects help Australian farmers with fight against pests

“We wanted to see if it was possible to produce carbon neutral food and fibre.

“The study showed us there is no silver bullet and reducing greenhouse gas emissions needs to be multi-layered, but it is possible to achieve carbon neutrality without compromising productivity,” said Wootton.

Wootton and Kantor have integrated tree plantings with grazing across their farms.

Since 1997, they have re-vegetated more than 600ha with indigenous trees and shrubs and timber species, for permanent environmental plantings and farm forestry.

Their farms’ emissions from livestock, energy and transport are being offset by the carbon sequestered in these trees and soils.

The University of Melbourne study found that with 20 per cent of the farm planted to trees, the stocking rates at were carbon positive over a 25-year period.

The trees contributed to a 48 per cent reduction in emissions between 2000 and 2014, and a 70 per cent reduction to 2020.

The carbon sink provided by the trees has also allowed the pair to participate in carbon offsetting projects, including selling carbon neutral wool to an Italian fashion label, Quatha, through The Merino Company in 2009.

Tree plantings offset 830 tonnes of carbon equivalents for 84 bales of wool.

They have also planted trees for Greenfleet, who were paid by third parties to offset their vehicle emissions.

The trees not only reduce the impact of climate change but provide shelter for lambing and, together with revegetated waterways, wetlands and well-managed pastures, contribute to an adaptive and resilient farming system.

Kantor said they had seen bird species increase from 47 to 159 species over the past 20 years.

“This biodiversity is a good indicator of a healthy production system,” she said.

Wootton and Kantor are also lowering their reliance on fossil fuel by installing solar panels at their house and sheds, solar pumps and using more efficient electrical pumps.


Melbourne food and packaging students seek internships

There’s a push for companies in the food and packaging sector to offer industry internships  as part of a Melbourne-based Master of Food and Packaging Innovation degree.

The University of Melbourne, along with Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP), are seeking companies to give students hand-on experience in the industry.

The course is a post-graduate degree, which trains students in the area food packaging processes and design.

Students completing the two-year degree, study food science, food safety, packaging materials and processes, packaging design, consumer behaviour, product innovation, entrepreneurship, business management, and marketing.

MORE: Internships land for Master of Food and Packaging Innovation Program 

Companies can benefit from offering an internship by assessing them as possible future employees.

Interns have the chance to receive some extra help with research or projects. They can also inspire new ideas and help problem-solve.

Many of the interns have worked in a diverse range of fields prior to undertaking the Master Degree and bring a range of skills obtained through previous employment.

A required of the course is to undertake 120-200 hours of work as part of the internship.

The hours can be taken over weeks or months, depending on the needs of the company.

There’s an urgent need for companies to offer internships as two students currently require positions.

Internships land for Master of Food and Packaging Innovation program

The University of Melbourne and the Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) are offering businesses the opportunity to engage students from the Master of Food and Packaging Innovation (MFPI) for an industry internship in 2018.

The MFPI is a unique post-graduate degree, training students to be well rounded professionals in the area of NPD as well as food packaging processes and design.

“Taking an MFPI intern provides an ideal opportunity to assess your potential future employees,” said Nerida Kelton, MAIP executive officer.

“Students from the Master of Food Packaging and Innovation have the knowledge, skills, drive and enthusiasm to be highly successful employees, and potentially future leaders, in the food and food packaging industries.”

Hosting an intern supports industry development and the future leaders of the food and food packaging sectors. MFPI students are required to undertake 120 to 200 hours of work as part of their internship.

These hours can be taken over weeks or months, depending on the needs of the company.

Parties who are interested in taking an intern in 2018 can email for more information.