Stuart Austin, General Manager of Wilmot Cattle Company, notes subtle changes in the landscape each time he shifts cattle to fresh pasture at the 1854-hectare-property on the Ebor Plateau of northern NSW. Native plants are emerging and the pasture biomass and ground cover continue to flourish, following a shift in grazing management nine-years-ago.
Since switching to a soil health focus in 2012, soil carbon results have increased from 2.5 percent to 4.7 percent at Wilmot.
Stuart demonstrates the importance of farmers in restoring ecological function alongside building a profitable and robust business. The Wilmot Cattle Company team take a regenerative approach across three properties Wilmot, Woodburn and Morocco – spanning 5,665-hectares in the New England region – to produce grass-fed beef and sequester soil carbon.
“Our role is to provide food and fibre for the world but also to preserve the environment we manage,” Stuart says.
“As farmers we manage so much of this landscape on a percentage basis and a full ecological system includes animals. If we manage those animals in a positive way that benefits the environment, then we can have a huge positive impact on the landscape, which is what’s required for us to have a really significant impact on the climate.”
Grazing management is the primary tool used to increase biodiversity, soil health, animal performance and profitability.
Data from every aspect of the business is recorded to assist with decision making.
“We are continuing to challenge the parameters within the business and have a strong continuous improvement philosophy, Stuart says.
Wilmot Cattle Company has a goal to reach soil carbon of six percent by 2023 at Wilmot, while at Woodburn they are aiming for four percent and three percent at Morocco.
“The carbon piece has become a big focus and in my role as General Manager I am looking to build on this at an industry level. It’s actually encouraging producers to focus on natural capital and the rewards and opportunities that may be there.”
“One of my fundamental goals in life is to help other people which is why I have never been shy about sharing what we do, without claiming to have all the answers. We have learnt so much and will continue to learn every year for the benefit of the business and landscape. I like to think in 20-30 years’ time, we’ll be able to look back and because we were open and willing to share, others have implemented things on their land and so had an impact across a much bigger landscape, rather than just the ones we manage.”