THE innovation arm of Australian agriculture’s research and development corporations is on the verge of developing a carbon footprint calculator for producers.
Agricultural Innovation Australia’s (AIA’s) environmental accounting platform will enable growers to baseline and benchmark their enterprise as well as use scenario planning to aid decision-making around reducing carbon emissions and capturing new opportunities.
Similar accounting tools have been created by private companies and Meat & Livestock Australia.
The platform is being developed by AIA with investment from some of Australia’s rural Research and Development Corporations (RDCs), including Grains Research and Development Corporation, Meat & Livestock Australia, Australian Eggs, Australian Pork Limited, and AgriFutures Australia.
AIA CEO Sam Brown said that the platform will provide a widely accessible and standardised implementation of carbon footprint calculation models.
“As a not-for-profit company, AIA has focused on a pre-competitive platform designed to integrate with channels that growers already use and trust, including farm management software, agricultural services provider offerings, agrifinance and others.”
Growers will be able to access the carbon footprinting solution via these channels, as well as online via RDC websites.
Mr Brown said that growers will also be able to share their data with their advisors and consultants, supply-chain partners, financial institutions or other organisations of their choice.
“Growers will always retain control over their data, including when and who they choose to share it with. Data privacy and security has been at the core of our platform design and all data sharing will be on a grower opt-in basis only.”
“Understanding and sharing carbon footprint data can support market access, carbon market opportunities as well as provide growers with increased confidence in conversations with financial institutions around ESG, natural capital and asset management.”
Initially, AIA’s platform will digitise and house the University of Melbourne’s Primary Industry Climate Challenges Centre Greenhouse Accounting Frameworks for Australian Primary Industries (GAF Tools).
Developed by greenhouse accounting expert, Prof Richard Eckard, these tools are aligned to the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory reporting protocol, and also compliant with ISO standards and the GHG protocol.
Mr Brown said that the GAF spreadsheets were a logical starting point for AIA’s environmental accounting platform.
“It made sense for AIA to focus on the current de-facto standards first, as these are the most widely used tools by growers. During our discovery phase, we found that many growers found spreadsheets cumbersome and difficult to use.”
“With Prof. Eckard’s support, AIA has designed an architecture that will digitise and aggregate these tools so that growers can use one common platform to calculate their footprint across multiple commodities.”
Prof Eckard said that the platform would help Australia avoid the pitfalls other countries have struggled with in the carbon footprinting space.
“AIA’s whole of agriculture, fisheries and forestry solution approach will help Australia avoid the fragmentation, duplication and inconsistencies seen in other markets that have a proliferation of carbon calculators.
“I’m particularly impressed with the flexible design of AIA’s platform architecture, which will be able to evolve with improvements, updates and revisions to the calculators as well as their underlying reference data and algorithms,” said Prof. Eckard.
AIA is building the platform using self-contained, modular calculators to ensure extensibility and enable new commodity-specific calculators and other accounting frameworks, such as natural capital, to be added incrementally over time.
Agtuary, a leading developer of digital tools, workflows, and analytics for agriculture and environment, was selected by AIA to build the platform.
“We chose Agtuary for their strong focus on data security and privacy, as well as their desire to be not just a provider, but a partner in the design and delivery of a whole of industry solution,” said Mr Brown.
AIA’s environmental accounting platform will be built over the next six months, with user testing and piloting planned for late 2023.
Mr Brown said that several commercial supply chain companies and financial institutions have already expressed interest to partner with AIA on the platform.
“We are actively seeking commercial investors and partners who want to connect to our platform or build it into their own service offerings. AIA very much sees this as a carbon footprint solution to support a connected supply-chain.”
- Interested parties are invited to contact AIA via email@example.com