Former Benalla member state Bill Sykes operates a small cattle farm on the outskirts of town and has been working on carbon neutrality for years.
However, he said, despite incorporating a number of measures to do just that, the reality is that their effect on his carbon footprint was not as high as he had hoped and that he didn’t see how it could become carbon neutral while still being profitable.
“I want to focus on carbon neutrality and I would like people to help me show me how they do it – and this has to be justified,” said Dr Sykes.
“Whether you are a believer or a non-believer, it is clear that the climate has changed and that part, in my opinion, is associated with (human activity).
“Therefore, we must do what we can to reduce our carbon emissions.
“Having said that, it is absolutely essential that the costs of reducing our carbon emissions are shared equitably among all beneficiaries of this, which includes the wider community in Australia and around the world.”
Dr Sykes said the carbon issue is twofold.
“The first component is the emissions you put out, and the second is what you take out of the system,” he said.
“I try to work on both fronts.
“On my farm, I run a small cattle herd of 130 cows and calves on 500 acres (202 ha).
“I had an audit done and my main source of emissions is cattle, mainly methane from burps and farts.
“It’s about 70% of my farm’s emissions, so I’m trying to solve this problem. “
This is done by using various food additives.
Dr Sykes also uses practices such as rotational grazing, as well as soil and pasture management.
“What I learned from the carbon audit is that I would need to have 30 percent of my farm in trees.
“I’ve been planting trees for 30 years and I have about five percent of the farm. “
Dr Sykes said he has followed best practices for his soil management, including:
- Minimal soil disturbance.
- Leave good coverage on the ground.
- Have a mixed grazing species.
- Focus on planting perennials, which are deeply rooted and absorb carbon deep in the soil.
Dr Sykes said he often hears experts talk about how to achieve a carbon neutral farm, but has yet to see evidence of how this could be achieved in the Benalla region. .
“I want to ask anyone who has been able to increase their soil carbon through reclamation practices in Northeast Victoria to please come speak to me.
“There have been farmers who have been very successful in high rainfall areas like Gippsland or the New England area of New South Wales.
“But I don’t know if it’s possible here. If so, I would like someone to explain to me how.
If you think you can help Dr Sykes, you can email him at: [email protected]