A New South Wales grazing aggregation has sold carbon credits worth around $500,000 to global tech brand Microsoft – the first of its kind involving an Australian grazier.
Over the past three years, Wilmot Cattle Co has sequestered more than 40,000 tonnes of carbon using a regenerative grazing system to produce grass-fed beef. Their farming approach includes time-controlled rotational grazing and intensive stocking rates in smaller paddocks, resulting in better ground cover, larger volumes of biomass and improved water-holding capacity.
In addition to restricting grazing in drought years, Wilmot’s land is now more productive and resilient, with soil organic carbon rates lifting from 2.5% to up to 4.5% with the goal of achieving 6% by 2023.
The company, which is owned by the Macdoch Group, runs a total of 4,000 hectares across two properties in the New England Tablelands – Wilmot and Woodburn.
Wilmot Cattle Co General Manager Stuart Austin said that the sale of the credits reinforced the benefits achieved through their farming system.
“Our data has shown us over many years now that we are consistently increasing soil organic carbon levels in our soils, as our soil health improved as a result of our grazing management system. Carbon is now a tradable commodity, and as such, we have looked all over the world to find a way to monetise these carbon gains, this project has enabled that,” he said.
Mr Austin, who was placed in his position at Wilmot Cattle Co by The Lucas Group, said that he hoped that the transaction would improve the uptake of carbon trading by Australian agriculture.
“Our hope is that through securing this transaction, we can send a message to both the Government and private carbon markets to get on with it! There is huge demand for carbon credits from big business globally, and ecologically friendly land stewardship will sequester carbon, so there is huge opportunity for land managers to monetise these gains if more products, like the CarbonPlus Grassland credit, are brought to market.”
Wilmot Cattle Co continues to investigate the opportunities that carbon trading offers including future credit sales and leveraging the opportunity to brand and market their own beef products.
“We are still committed to a Federal Government soil carbon project at our Gunnedah property, ‘Morocco’, and we hope to continue to sell credits annually through the Regen Network. Is a ‘climate positive’ grass fed beef brand on the radar? Quite possibly.”
Exploring the Carbon Market
The deal was facilitated by US company Regen Network which verified the credits, giving them CarbonPlus Grassland Credit status. According to Regen, the rating reflects the volume of carbon sequestered, along with “a suite of co-benefits including ecosystem health, animal welfare, and soil health.”
The credits issued to Wilmot and Woodburn were the first CarbonPlus Grassland issued by Regen. The project was initially registered with the company in 2016, with baseline monitoring undertaken between 2017 and 2019. The credits were issued in December last year and expire in 2027.
Microsoft pledged to become carbon negative by 2030, and to mitigate all carbon emitted through electricity use since 1975, by 2050. To date, the brand has bought 1.3 million metric tonnes in carbon credits from 26 projects around the world.
These purchases have effectively reduced their emissions over the past year by 6% to 10.9 metric tonnes.