Flagship Family Regenerating Soil at Boorook

Boorook is a 1,200ha family farming operation North of Mortlake in Victoria.

The Allen family from Mortlake in Victoria have been at Boorook for over 100 years so they must be doing something right. David Allen and his son Nick and families have been very successful cattle producers supplying finished cattle to either the EU, JBS or the supermarkets.

Their work with environmental management and animal welfare have led them to be nominated as one of McDonalds Flagship Farms – the only one in Australia and amongst about 40 scattered around the world.

Their interest in sustainability has prompted the family to register a soil carbon project with the Federal Government. This has only recently been ticked off and so the “real “ work can begin. This will involve a combination of compost, rotational grazing and multiple species planting. “To get to this stage and have baseline soil sampling done requires a lot of very detailed mapping” David said.

The main plan is to just increase organic matter to add more resilience and water holding capacity. Soil monitoring done so far indicates quite a compacted layer so this needs breaking up with deep roots. Then down the track some years, further soil sampling may indicate an increase in carbon retained deep in the profile and these can be sold as carbon credits.

A shining example of one of the Allen’s unimproved paddocks with zero history of fertilizer, sown with a 12 species mix in November 2020 with 80 kgs MAP

The Allen’s are using Canberra based company Australian Soil Management to develop the project. Norman Marshall from the company says there is a lot of interest in the soil carbon process. “There is a 30 % increase in productivity by just increasing organic matter in the soil” Norman said.

“If we want to save the world from the devastation of climate change, we need to recognise that the global regeneration starts with our soils”.

Norman also gave an example that if there is a 1 % increase of carbon in a hectare that is equivalent to 165 tonnes of Co2 (captured from the atmosphere) and at a price of $17 – $19 at the moment, it is potentially a good extra source of additional income.

Norman said “that farmers are in a fantastic position to capitalize on leveraging their natural capital”

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