A Bundaberg macadamia farm has gone carbon positive by using waste such as grass clippings, nut husks and prunings to create nutrient-rich food which helps its trees thrive.
Through the implementation of practices to promote soil health and fertility, Marquis Macadamias shareholder-supplier Hinkler Park Plantations has significantly reduced its greenhouse gas emissions while making positive contributions to the environment.
The 3000 hectare macadamia farm has achieved the result, plus the removal of 17,670 tonnes of carbon dioxide between 2020 and 2021, through carbon sequestration as well as cutting energy and fertiliser use.
Carbon sequestration is a natural or artificial process in which carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere and held in solid or liquid form.
Ways in which to effectively sequester carbon include composting agricultural waste, which works to store the carbon in the soil instead of it being released into the air.
Hinkler Park Plantations Queensland General Manager and Marquis Macadamias Director Clayton Mattiazzi said by going back to basics, Hinkler Park Plantations had completely revolutionised its farming operations.
“This time eight years ago we were struggling with soil health, tree health and yields,” Clayton said.
“By implementing biological farming practices, we have completely reinvigorated the health of our farm and quality of our macadamias.
“We did this by creating a media of nutrient rich material to optimise growing conditions for our macadamia trees.”
Clayton said this included repurposing excess organic matter such as nut husks and grass clippings from the farm and placing the material back under the tree.
“What we have now is a farm that sequesters more carbon than it produces, preparing us for climate change by building a biologically healthy and more robust farming system,” he said.
To put it into perspective, Hinkler Park Plantations' carbon positive result is equivalent to offsetting the emissions from 4236 passenger vehicles for an entire year.
Clayton said getting to this point was a culmination of investing time and resources into improving soil health.
“We looked at our farming practices and systems to see if we could improve them in a more environmentally-friendly manner and we highlighted our soil health as the main factor in doing that,” he said.
“We implemented composts into our farming systems and looked after our orchard floor, reducing herbicides and reusing our organic matter rather than removing it.
“The only product that is removed is nut and shell, everything else gets recycled back into our soil.
“Not only does this mean we are now carbon neutral, we are also carbon positive by putting more carbon back into the soil than what is removed.”
Clayton said these practices provided many benefits for both the grower and the consumer.
“As for our farming practices, they are completely different to what they once were,” he said.
“We are not completely reliant upon chemical input, whether it is fertiliser or pesticides.
“What we have built is a healthy and robust farming system where our trees give us natural resilience, meaning we are not as prone to droughts, excess rainfall or root diseases.
“We get more reliable yields and have increased our quality which means a better experience for our customers through a more tastier, crunchier nut.”