THE Freeranger Eggs Farm in Grantville is leading the way for sustainable farming in Australia.
The sustainable management of the farm focuses on three areas; the welfare of animals, land sustainability and food safety.
Despite all the political bickering in Canberra over emissions trading scheme targets, Freeranger Eggs farmer Phil Westwood has been quietly getting on with mitigating the impact of carbon emissions.
“We consciously made the decision to be more sustainable. It’s a matter of doing things around the farm that are the right thing to do for the earth,” Phil said.
“It’s a duty of care to the planet; it’s what everyone should be doing.”
The farm’s carbon footprint is limited by imposing a food miles policy for deliveries, using recycled materials and equipment whenever possible, utilising solar power and mechanical processes and an effective waste reduction program.
“We made the decision when we purchased the property to have no clearing of the bush,” Phil’s wife Anne said.
“We realised that the bush on our land was the only link between the Bass River and the dense forested areas.
“We recognised that that was important, even if it did limit what we could do on the farm.
“Everything on the farm here gets recycled, even our storage shed was second hand.”
As a result, the 1200 strong chook farm generates only about 60 tonnes of CO2 each year.
But it is better than carbon neutral – it is carbon positive.
The average organic matter in soil tests was 4.1 per cent in 2004, in 2006 it was 6.0 per cent, and in 2009 it was 7.9 per cent.
The farm also applies no chemical fertilisers, herbicides, or pesticides and this policy increases the biological life in the soil and increases the rate of carbon sequestration.
Rotational grazing is practised on the pastures; taking advantage of photosynthesis to pull CO2 into the plants and then into the roots from where it transfers to the soil.
In addition, every year at least another tonne of CO2 per acre continues to be sequestered by the regular growth and replacement of Kangaroo Apples in the main paddocks.
Freeranger Eggs attracted international recognition in 2012 as the Australian winner of the Energy Globe Award, awarded for farming and for promoting a model of sustainability that can easily be replicated.
“We have had several groups for Papua New Guinea, the Czech Republic, and Poland, who have visited the farm to attend workshops. They came out here to look and learn,” Phil said.
The farm and house also runs off solar power.
On a good day of full sun exposure the solar panels generate between 13 and 17kW of energy, and on an average day Phil and Anne use just 9kW.
“Being sustainable doesn’t have to be a high capital venture,” Phil said.
“It’s all about utilising what we already have.”