Valuing your Farm Natural Capital

Do you farm your land in a way that improves the soil, plant and animal health? Yes, you do!

  • Have you reduced tillage to reduce evaporation and preserve soil moisture, and sow earlier to increase water use efficiency during the season?
  • Do you use legume crops or pastures to build soil nitrogen?
  • Do you amend soil to make nutrients more available?
  • Do you rotate crops to build soil nitrogen, reduce pathogens, control pests and weeds?
  • Maybe you sow mixed pastures to graze with sheep or have extended pasture phases, and wonder what the soil benefits are?
  • Have you protected or planted habitat for pollinators and pest control for your crops and pastures, or to reduce the effects of wind?
  • Do you use Integrated Pest Management to reduce damage to crops and pastures?

Chances are you have done most, if not all the above, and are looking after your land’s natural capital which your farm business depends on.

What is Natural Capital?

Natural capital includes all elements of the natural environment. On a farm, this includes:

  • the soil and soil biota (microbes, fungi, invertebrates)
  • water resources (ground and surface water)
  • grasses, forbs and sedges (native and introduced) that make up pastures and understory
  • different hay and grain crops, and livestock
  • shrubs and trees (remnants, re-planted and agroforestry), and
  • native animals

Why is Natural Capital important?

Natural capital is the foundation of all farming systems – soil and water provide the substrate and nutrients for crops and pastures, trees and shrubs provide fodder and shelter for livestock and regulate micro-climate for crops, and native animals (e.g., insects, reptiles, birds) provide a range of services such as pollination, pest control and waste decomposition.

What is Natural Capital Accounting?

Natural Capital Accounting enables farmers to account for the natural capital on their farm, both in physical as well as monetary terms. Like financial accounting, it is guided by an agreed set of standards and is quantifiable.

How can Natural Capital Accounting help my farm business?

Natural Capital Accounts can help farm businesses in several ways:

  • To record changes (improvements, reductions) in natural capital over time, and relate changes to farm management practices
  • To show how natural capital supports agricultural production, and therefore farm profitability
  • To demonstrate the public and private benefit of maintaining and improving natural capital on your farm, and
  • To communicate your farm’s environmental performance to a range of stakeholders.

Who we are:

The Farm-scale Natural Capital Accounting project is a three-year (2020-2023) project jointly funded through the Australian Government’s Smart Farming Partnership program, La Trobe University and Odonata, collaborating with another seven organisations including BCG.

The project will develop user-friendly accounts by collating farm data, maps of natural assets and their condition, and take detailed biodiversity assessments, soil sampling and ecosystem service measurements. The accounts will present a range of metrics that describe your farm and can be used for monitoring over time to improve production and environmental outcomes.  

Would you like to be able to measure and value what your practices mean for your farm natural assets and business?
If this is you, BCG is very interested to hear from you.
Please contact Alison: 0429 922 787 or alison@bcg.org.au to find out more.

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