By Diana Fear
CWFS held its Cool Soil Initiative meeting on Thursday, 18 March at The Fettell Centre Condobolin with a number of local farmers and industry stakeholders.
This Project was initially piloted by Mars Petcare and the US-based Sustainable Food Lab (SFL) in 2017 with two farming systems groups, CWFS in the central west and Riverine Plains in the south. It was designed by Mars Incorporated as part of a global commitment to reduce the environmental impacts of their business, specifically through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
CWFS has worked with Mars and local growers with great success – from a small beginning with a handful of growers to now with 35 local growers involved in the project. As a way of encouraging participation and showing appreciation for growers’ time, the project provides complimentary soil tests each year along with technical support for interpreting results. Through the use of the ‘Cool Farm Tool’ (a specifically designed online calculator) growers are able to understand the impact of their management practices and also use different scenarios or “what-if” options to see how things could have played out.
The Cool Soil Initiative has gained even more momentum and now welcomes major Australian manufacturers, Kellogg’s, Manildra Group, and Allied Pinnacle, as well as leading researchers at Charles Sturt University to form a collaborative Food Agility Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) project with a $2million+ commitment to help grow the program over the next three years.
The CWFS meeting provided a great opportunity for our local growers to learn more about the project and hear from Dr Cassie Schefe, AgriSci Pty Ltd; Paul Schoullar, Strategic Sourcing Manager, Mars Petcare; Peter Sloan and Grant Williams, Grain buyers, Manildra Group; Jonathan Medway, Spatial Agricultural Specialist, CSU; Majella Nolan, Food Agility CRC.
The Cool Soil Initiative helps farmers collaborate more closely with researchers and manufacturers to better understand the part they all play towards sustainable and profitable farming practices.
If anyone would like more information on how to be involved in this project, please contact Diana Fear at CWFS on firstname.lastname@example.org.