Located 50 km northwest of Bendigo, Orana farm is one of the fifty farms participating in the Farm-scale Natural Capital Accounting Project.
Over the next two years, the research team is integrating financial, farm management, and environmental data from fifty farms into farm-scale natural capital accounts.
Matt Davis, Chief Operations Officer of Tiverton Rothwell Impact Company, is converting the 4,674 ha farm from conventional to sustainable cropping and permanent planting. Matt is keen to start the research. He is seeking additional knowledge to reduce carbon emissions and increase carbon sequestration to enable the fund to achieve its mission and vision.
“Soil carbon is a key indicator of soil health and sustainability of agriculture, so by working to increase soil carbon, we are also improving the productivity and resilience of land,” says Matt. “We build natural capital wealth and returns through building soil health, leading biodiversity recovery and restoration, along with other methods of carbon sequestration.”
Like the other participating farms, Orana is sharing their farm financial and management data and preparing for their first visit from ecologists who will measure their farm’s natural values. Over the next two years, ecologists will measure variables relating to soil microbial composition and function, plant species diversity and community health, bird abundance and diversity, and ecosystem services such as pest control and decomposition.
Matt describes Tiverton as both an impact farmers and an impact fund. He says, “The core of our business is the protection of our farm’s natural capital assets - the soil, animals, plants and crop health. We farm using a regenerative agricultural program. Having a standardised tool to measure our farm’s natural capital will enable us to make farm management decisions with more impact.”
One of the critical outcomes of the Farm-scale NCA project Matt is anticipating is creating natural capital accounts that are standardised and act similarly to a financial balance sheet. “The more we can understand the levers of natural capital and how they impact our business, the better we can manage our farm. We don’t know everything, and we want the opportunity to learn more.”
The Loddon River is the farm boundary on the east side of the property, and in the southwest corner is 280 hectares which will be a wildlife sanctuary. In preparation for the re-introduction of the Eastern Bettong, a predator-proof fence has been built. Planted corridors will increase natural capital and also support the farm’s production.
“Having a tool to measure and understand the complexities of the interrelationship between natural capital and also the farm inputs and outputs is invaluable,” says Matt.