Workshop: What Can Farmers Do? Farmer-led, science-based greenhouse gas mitigation strategies for Australia and abroad

February 18, 2021

Momentum is gathering around climate change action. The impact of Australia’s worst summer of bushfires, a changing political approach globally and recent discussions about net zero emissions by 2050 have again focused attention on the issue. It is therefore timely to focus on constructive, solution-based ideas, particularly in agriculture, which in Australia, is already feeling the impact of climate change.  

The Crawford Fund and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) are hosting a workshop to highlight exactly what farmers can do, and are doing, to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. These innovative practices are making a difference and provide strategies that could be implemented across Australia and around the world.

The workshop is a key event coinciding with the Council meeting of the Global Research Alliance (GRA) on Greenhouse Gases in Agriculture, which is chaired by Australia represented by ACIAR.  Activities of the GRA are increasingly relevant to both global and national priorities as more importance is placed on global food security and the resilience of agricultural systems. 

When: Tuesday 23 March – 2.00pm-5.15pm
How: Free and online
Register: via Eventbrite

Program: available here.

The workshop, “What can farmers do? Farmer-led, science-based greenhouse gas mitigation: strategies for Australia and abroad,” will highlight what is being done by farmers in Australia to contribute to greenhouse gas reduction based on scientific knowledge. The success stories will have direct relevance to the GRA members and the developing world and to understand some of the existing scientific challenges and opportunities in both animal and cropping systems.

“We have secured an eminent panel of Australia’s leading farming, and scientific minds in this area and will be considering how Australian innovation might be used overseas,” said Dr Colin Chartres, Chief Executive Officer of the Crawford Fund.

“We want to demonstrate how agricultural and land management strategies contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions nationally and internationally, and the scientific evidence guiding farmer actions in Australia,” he said.

“Examples of which technologies and practices work at the farmer field scale; how greenhouse gas benefits are measured on-farm; and how these technologies and practices impact farm profitability will all be presented throughout the afternoon,” said Dr Chartres.

“A big picture perspective about the current scientific challenges and opportunities for greenhouse gas abatement in animal and cropping systems will provide exciting insights into the future direction in this emerging and essential future direction for Australian agriculture,” he concluded.

Introducing our speakers:

The first of our workshop speakers include John Anderson, Fiona Simson, Andrew Campbell, Lucinda Corrigan and Mark Wootton.

The Hon John Anderson AO FTSE, Chair of the Crawford Fund
John Anderson is the former Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the National Party of Australia (1999-2005); Minister for Primary Industries and Energy (1996-1998); Minister for Transport and Regional Development (1998-2005); served on Expenditure Review (Budget) Committee, National Security Committee and Standing Environment Committee while in Cabinet. He was the member for Gwydir, New South Wales 1989 to his retirement in 2005. John has returned to farming and is also active in the not-for-profit sector.

Fiona Simson GAICD, Chair, Commission for International Agricultural Research and President, National Farmers Federation
Mrs Fiona Simson is a farmer from the Liverpool Plains in NSW where she and her family run a mixed farming enterprise including broad acre farming and breeding commercial poll Hereford cattle. With tertiary qualifications in business and education, Fiona’s passion for local food production and the growth and sustainability of rural and regional Australia led to a career in local government as an elected Councillor in Liverpool Plains Shire Council. Fiona sits on the Board of NRMA (NSW), the Australian Made Campaign Ltd, AgStewardship Australia and the Australian Farmers Fighting Fund. Fiona was elected President of the National Farmers’ Federation in November 2016.

Professor Andrew Campbell FTSE FAICD, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR)
Professor Andrew Campbell joined ACIAR as CEO in 2016, after six years in Darwin at Charles Darwin University. Andrew has played influential roles in sustainable agriculture and natural resource management in Australia for over 30 years, including as the first national Landcare Facilitator. Andrew is an elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and an honorary Professorial Fellow at the Australian National University. He represents Australia on the System Council of the CGIAR, is a board member of the Peter Cullen Trust, a Commissioner on the Commission for International Agricultural Research, and is the incoming Chair of the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases. Andrew is still involved (from a distance) in his farm in western Victoria, where his family have been farming since the 1860s.

Lucinda Corrigan, FAICD, FARLF, Director, Rennylea Pastoral Company
Lucinda Corrigan has spent her professional life working in innovation across the livestock industries. Through many roles at a local, state and national level she has developed a deep interest in transformational research and development, the ethical governance of public funds, attracting private co-investment, transparency and accountability that invigorate change. She has chaired the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation at Charles Sturt University, she chaired the Primary Industries Ministerial Advisory Council in NSW for Minister Hodgkinson, a long-term Director of Meat and Livestock Australia and chaired the MLA Donor Company, and a Commissioner of The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research.  She is past Chair of Farmers for Climate Action. Currently she chairs the Sheep Sustainability Framework Governance Committee, a non-executive director at dairy company Datagene and Chair of the Animal Breeding and Genetics Unit at UNE.

Mark Wootton, Owner, Jigsaw Farms
Mark Wootton is a geographer by training and a farmer by practice. With his wife, Eve Kantor, they produce carbon neutral beef, lamb, wool and high value timber at Jigsaw Farms in South West Victoria. He is the Deputy Chairperson of the recently formed Victorian Agriculture Climate Change Council for the Victorian Government. He is a member of the Sheep Sustainability Framework Steering Committee. He is also Chair of the Independent Advisory Panel for the Victorian Government’s Agriculture Energy Investment Plan. He is also a past Chair of The Climate Institute and of the Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority.

The final speakers for the session are Terry McCosker, Richard Eckard, Maartje Sevenster,
Jamie Isbister, Colin Chartres and Daniel Walker.

Terry McCosker, Director and Co-Founder, Resource Consulting Services
Terry McCosker is one of the great innovators of Australian agriculture who has had an inordinate impact on agricultural practises over many years. On this basis the Central Queensland University conferred on Terry, the degree of Honorary Doctor of Agribusiness, in March 2015. One of his greatest lifetime achievements has been to effectively bridge the gap between the contesting paradigms of traditional agriculture and regenerative agriculture, helping to ensure the long-term survival of Australian agriculture and its farming families. Terry is an internationally acclaimed teacher and has worked in research, extension and property management in both government and private sectors for over 50 years. Terry co-founded RCS in 1985 which has set the benchmark for capacity building in rural and regional Australia and has been independently rated (by a Commonwealth Govt survey) as the most trusted source of farming knowledge in Australia. Terry is also a pioneer in the field of soil carbon and carbon farming, having been committed to research and commercial activity in this area since 2007. In this capacity he is Chairman of Carbon Link Limited, an agricultural carbon aggregator.

Richard Eckard, Director, Primary Industries Climate Challenge Centre, The University of Melbourne
Richard Eckard is Professor of Sustainable Agriculture at the University of Melbourne and Director of the Primary Industries Climate Challenges Centre, a research centre addressing the impacts of a changing climate on agriculture. His research focuses on sustainable agricultural production, with a recent focus on carbon neutral agriculture and options for agriculture to respond to a changing climate. Richard developed the first greenhouse gas accounting tools for agriculture with his research and expertise provided the science basis for the development of six carbon offset methods in Australia. He is a science advisor to the Australian, New Zealand (MPI, NZAGRC) and UK (ADAS) governments, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), UN FAO and EU (ERA-GAS and ERA-NET), on climate change adaptation, mitigation research and policy development in agriculture. He is a network leader in the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gasses. He is a member of the newly formed Victorian Agriculture and Climate Change Council and sits on numerous government and industry advisory committees. Richard has published over 150 peer reviewed papers, with 80 peer-reviewed papers, 7 book chapters, and 140 conference papers on climate change, carbon farming and agriculture since 2010.

Maartje Sevenster, Senior Research Scientist, Climate Smart Agriculture, CSIRO
As part of CSIRO’s Climate Smart Agriculture group, Maartje works on the quantification of direct and indirect impacts of agriculture and food. Agriculture is both driving climate change and strongly impacted by it, and the goal is to make the role of externalities such as ecosystem services more visible, in problems as well as solutions.  The current focus of Maartje’s work is on the interface of life cycle assessment and greenhouse-gas accounting principles with real farm management and mitigation.

Jamie Isbister, Ambassador for the Environment, First Assistant Secretary, Economic Growth and Sustainability Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Mr Jamie Isbister was appointed Australia’s Ambassador for the Environment in November 2019. He is responsible for promoting and protecting Australia’s national interests on global environmental issues, including through leading Australia’s negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. He is also the head of the Economic Growth and Sustainability Division in DFAT. Prior to this he headed DFAT’s Humanitarian, NGOs and Partnerships Division for five years and was the Australian Government’s Humanitarian Coordinator. He has previously served overseas as Minister Counsellor Development for Africa based in Pretoria, and was Assistant Director General for the Africa and Middle East Branch of AusAID. Jamie has over 25 years’ experience working in the humanitarian and development field. Before entering Government, he worked for a range of international development and human rights organisations including Amnesty International and the Caritas International network. Jamie recently co-led the pivot of Australia’s development program in response to the current COVID-19 crisis and the development of the new ‘Partnerships for Recovery’ policy. Jamie is also DFAT’s mental health champion.

Dr Colin Chartres, Chief Executive Officer, The Crawford Fund
Dr Colin Chartres has had a long and successful career in the private sector, academia and government roles. Before joining the Crawford Fund in 2014 he was Director General of the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), a CGIAR Research Centre headquartered in Sri Lanka. Previously, he was Chief Science Adviser to the National Water Commission and held senior management roles in the Bureau of Rural Sciences and Geoscience Australia. He worked with CSIRO Division of Soils from 1984- 1997 where he focused inter alia on soil acidity, soil structure and salinity issues and their impacts on agriculture and from 2002-2004 in the Land and Water Division, where he was involved in business development and international science linkages. Colin has a strong interest in the key nexus between science and policy, and through his work with IWMI, specialist interest in water scarcity and its impact on global food security and on science leadership and management best practice. Colin currently Chairs the Expert Review Panel for the Australian Water Partnership and is an Honorary Professor in the Crawford School of Public Policy at ANU.

Dr Daniel Walker, Chief Scientist, ACIAR
Dr Daniel Walker oversees the strategic science focus of the ACIAR research portfolio and its impact assessment, monitoring and evaluation work. The Chief Scientist also provides leadership for Research Program Managers across nine research areas, and oversight of our relationship with the Australian innovation system. Dr Daniel Walker joined ACIAR in November 2017 to take up the newly-created role of Chief Scientist. Prior to ACIAR, Daniel spent 23 years at CSIRO, where he was Research Director for Agriculture and Global Change with CSIRO Agriculture and Food and previously, Chief of CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences. Daniel has a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in agriculture, forestry and rural economy from the University of Edinburgh and a PhD from the University of Wales.