Data is essential for growing environmental markets, field day hears

Eric Barker, 20/02/2023

WITH environmental claims becoming increasingly popular in the marketing of agricultural products, a conference in New South Wales has heard the industry will face increasing pressure to prove its claims with credible data.

Wilmot Cattle Company held its annual field day on the company’s property in Ebor last week, with a focus on the growing role of “natural capital” in agriculture – carbon, biodiversity, regenerative agriculture and technology were all discussed.

The day was launched with a speech from Alasdair MacLeod, who is the executive chairman of the Macdoch Group – which owns Wilmot. He spoke about the investment interest in “natural capital” and said he was keen to bring more “suits” to see the operation.

Mr MacLeod followed with a call to producers to think about measuring their “natural capital” credentials, with market access in mind.

Alasdair MacLeod

“The Ag Minister and the President of the NFF have recently been in Europe talking up the sustainability credentials of Australian Agriculture. Great work, Murray and Fiona. This is important for all of us,” he said.

“But sooner or later, someone is going to turn around and say, ‘ok, prove it!’.

“And if we don’t have the data and a decent system for organising that data, we’re going to find it very difficult to do so.”

Mr Macleod said he believed there was a lot of potential for agtech companies to work in the natural capital space – with Macdoch also a major investor in agtech.

“It might sound like an enormous headache, but I believe that this will become less and less of a headache as data technology becomes more and more embedded in our businesses and this data becomes a by-product of our day-to-day activity,” he said.

Protecting against greenwashing with data

With companies setting targets and making more environmental claims, the concept of “greenwashing” has become more prominence – which refers to companies falsely promoting environmental or green credentials to capitalise on changing consumer preferences.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) last year vowed to crack down on greenwashing.

The subject was brought up by Sam Duncan, who is the chief executive officer of digital environmental reporting company FarmLab.

“Greenwashing is the elephant in the room on this side of the industry and I feel like we need to address it,” Mr Duncan said.

“The term mainly comes up more with insetting because it is a particular supply chain buying the credits and telling the story.

“With good data you can counter that criticism about greenwashing. You can take them back to that soil test result you are claiming, right down to the location.”

Proving potential for soil carbon

Meat & Livestock Australia’s project manager for environmental markets Katelyn Lubcke offered some practical tips on how start collecting data – showing how some of the information kept in an Elders’ pocket notepad can be put online and used to help accessing markets.

“Consumers want to know our story in the red meat and livestock industry and we can use data to tell our story – let the technology be a solution,” Ms Lubcke said.

“I would encourage you all to tap into your networks, ask your neighbours about technology they are using and you will find out what is wrong with it pretty quickly.

“Make sure you are contacting providers if a piece of technology is not working, they want you as a customer and they want you to tell your neighbours about their product. Do not sit on the technology that is not working, make sure you are contacting them the get the support you need.”



















Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your comment will not appear until it has been moderated.
Contributions that contravene our Comments Policy will not be published.


  1. Lee Roberts, 21/02/2023

    Best of Agriculture 4.0 – Farmers are already reducing fertilizer cost and use over 70% and reducing soil toxicity with the “SNX30 fertilizer supplement”. It’s backed by a growing number of agronomists and NCGA Corn Yield Winners too.

Get Beef Central's news headlines emailed to you -