Kimo Estate is a modern farm that takes its role in the future of Australia very seriously. We believe that our stewardship of the land is our contribution to making a cleaner future for our children. We aim to do this in a way which does not harm the family business whilst providing real outcomes.
The red meat sector has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2030 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve on-farm husbandry practices and land management and store carbon in vegetation and soils, all while maintaining herd and flock numbers. Net GHG emissions from red meat production have fallen 57% since 2005, representing by far the greatest reduction by any sector of Australia’s economy. So farmers are pulling their weight. Our industry still contributes 10% of all of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions – this figure has halved since 2005. In good seasons however Australia's land mass operates as a huge carbon sink that rivals the amazon.
Our Tree Planting project has been running for the last 20 years but certainly has gained pace in the last 10 years. The project has seen areas on the farm that had been affected by a combination of natural erosion and stock movements has been regenerated. We have “locked up” 57 acres of the farm and planted native trees and shrubs to create reserves for native animals and in particular birds. Within only a few short years these areas are transformed into thriving ecosystems full of plant and wild life. Soon we will embark on a paddock tree program that will add to the work we have already done. Many of the paddock trees at kimo are old. Paddock trees are very important for not only do trees increase local biodiversity, they also reduce radiant heat load by 50 percent or more. Planting trees in conjunction with smaller shrubs as undergrowth to create tree belts will also provide shade and protection from winds, allowing for better control over livestock heat loads. This also helps farms to become a more comfortable workplace, or home, for people as well.
Our rotational grazing program allows farm animals to get the nutrients they need and maintains the health of the grass and soil over the long term, all while keeping carbon in the ground instead of releasing it into the atmosphere. With a rotational grazing system, there’s less need to feed animals grain or artificially fertilise the grass. One study found that farms participating in sustainable agriculture practices like rotational grazing produced 19% fewer emissions than non-participating farms in the first two years, dropping to 35% fewer emissions after participating for longer than two years.
Direct drilling of crops is an important part of Kimo Estates small cropping plan. Direct drilling offers many benefits over traditional plough-based systems of crop establishment. It lower costs and energy inputs, less wear and tear on our machinery, improved soil structure and less risk of damage from machinery. It reduces soil erosion and runoff, increases beneficial invertebrates and earthworms and decreases mineralisation of nitrogen and reduced leaching risk. For us this is the perfect blend of environmentally positive farming practices that is also a sound business decision.
Our Nitrogen fixing crop rotation is primarily from Lucern and Clover crops. Legumes are known as the best nitrogen-fixing plants and are grown to produce silage and hay for poor years. Silage in particular is a terrific use, it allows us to bury slightly moist bales underground which can be pulled out in drought years providing a terrific feed source for our cattle. Nitrogen-fixing cover crops bring multiple benefits: they participate in Nitrogen fixation, protect soil from erosion by covering it or holding in place with strong root systems, they improve soil fertility when used as green manure and help retain soil moisture, they help in weed management and serve as forage and grazing material for sheep and cattle while also attracting pollinators at the crop flowering time. These crops are crucial to the long tern health of the animals and land at Kimo Estate.
Kimo Estate is proud to support our local university (Charles Sturt) and has been working to promote new methods of landcare such as the Dung beetle project a trial that has been operating on Kimo Estate in 2020 and 2021. This valuable research is looking at these amazing little beetles that essentially mulch the soil with the dung of sheep and cattle (and Kangaroos :) providing a natural way of improving the soil. The beetles play a critical role on farm, transforming livestock dung into a multi-million-dollar benefit for producers. The beetles play other important roles by improving water permeation and can radically reduce fly and parasite numbers.
Farmers are part of the solution when it comes to emissions and through a little bit of effort great improvements can be made to both the environment, the soil and the bottom line.