FARMING with practices that could help reduce climate change, the Davie’s Bimbadeen farm and its rotational grazing with a focus on improving soil carbon has yielded award-winning produce and carbon neutrality.
Well known around Gippsland for their innovative programs above and below the ground, Bob and Anne Davie’s farm is ahead of its time.
“What’s in the ground matters,” Bob says.
The couple started farming the 340-acre property in 1956, and each year they have improved the land’s quality and value.
“When we bought the farm, it had signs of salinity, like a lot of Phillip Island. We farmed in a way that removed the salt,” Bob said.
Bob installed hump and hollow drainage through the paddocks of the then dairy farm.
“The rounding allows for water run off to flow between paddocks and drain out the salt.
That was over a decade ahead of its time and since then, Bob’s resourceful farming practices have continued to lead Gippsland.
“I’ve always been prepared to make mistakes, to learn and there’s been plenty along the way.
Bob is proud of his farm improvements, which have received national recognition ‘as an outstanding achiever for innovations in agricultural land management’ from Carbon Farming Australia.
Through personal insight, Landcare groups and a dynamic relationship with the land, the property is paving the way for Bass Coast and Gippsland farms.
“Our 2019 audit for emissions and sequestration of carbon in our vegetation and soils shows why cattle are an asset in soil sequestration.
Bob’s carbon neutrality is built on the foundation of carbon sequestering.
Becoming carbon neutral in 2014, Bob’s vision is focused on improving what’s going on below the ground.
“By planting peaas, nitrate is trapped inside the ground, this is then grazed and mulched, a natural fertiliser,” Bob explains.
Sequestering strategies include reducing emissions through genetic selection and absorbing atmospheric carbon by planting deep-rooted pastures.
The practice naturally improves fertility and soil organic matter (SOM).
The bio-diverse property has working yards, most split into two hectare paddocks, where a variety of practices help improve the SOM, whilst grazing continues.
“By rotational grazing it improves the crop’s roots capacity to sequester carbon.
With recent studies outlining the relationship between improved SOM and improved produce it’s no surprise Bob’s steers are award winners in Australia, Korea and Japan.
“For every 1% in (TOC) Total Organic Carbon, a moisture retention of at least 100,000 litres is gained, depending on soil type,” Bob said.
Removing carbon from the environment, Bimbadeen is the first farm in the region to measure sequestered carbon available for sale as stored carbon.
“We donated 367 tonnes of CO2e to TRPI Totally Renewable Phillip Island. This was auctioned off by PI Landcare at the TRPI Open Day,” Bob said.
The first tonne of carbon was purchased by Rick Oldham, a Microsoft specialist as a travel offset package for $750.
“I was hoping the first ton would reach $100, but when it sold for $750 I was blown away,” Bob said.
Following the auction, Bob now sells the carbon available at the Bimbadeen café in affordable gift packages.
“For $25 you can buy one ton of stored carbon that will in-set a car for a month, or 4 tonnes that will in-set an overseas trip,” Bob said.
Bob says the difference between in-setting and off-setting is the locality of in-setting means you know exactly where your money goes and where your carbon is stored.
“For farmers, the thing about sequestering carbon is not simply the money you can make from it, but the fact that it improves your crop and removes carbon from our atmosphere,” Bob said.
“It improves growth rate, healthier vegetables, sheep, cattle the whole lot.
“It can be expensive to have baseline tests done. Trading Bimbadeen carbon has enabled TRPI to assist six other farmers on PI enter the project,” he said.
“We believe it can be replicated through Bass Coast,” Bob said.
To purchase sequestered carbon, visit the Bimbadeen Farm Café, where Bob’s always happy to answer questions about the farm. Visit the farm and café at 550 Back Beach Road, Ventnor.
Bimbadeen’s positive outlook above and below the ground