“It was as though I had been handed a golden ticket to paradise. I know it probably sounds over-the-top, but that’s how passionate I am about regenerative farming. This has been such a valuable experience.”
Cattle farmer Susan Newey is one of 20 NSW farmers, and 50 overall, who have opened their gates to the farm-scale Natural Capital Accounting project.
At the heart of the research is the concept of natural capital accounting, which is the systematic process of accounting for natural resources like soil, vegetation and biodiversity.
The project is led by Dr Jim Radford, Principal Research Fellow at the La Trobe Research Centre for Future Landscapes and funded by the National Landcare Program.
“Despite 58% of the Australian continent being used for agriculture, conventional measuring and accounting fails to log the natural assets of properties, on both the plus and minus sides of the ledger,” Dr Radford says.
“This project addresses a critical gap in the promotion of sustainable farm practices by formally accounting for more than just the stock and infrastructure. It also includes natural assets, from birdlife and native grasses to soil quality, carbon footprint and the environmental sustainability of the business.”
“If we're going to value natural areas, we need a system to measure them and account for them.”
Participants like Susan Newey will receive a report on their farm that might suggest potential for improvement and growth.
“This research has the potential to protect biodiversity, drive change in agriculture methods and boost Australian farmers’ access to important international markets,” Dr Radford says.