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Carbon Counts for a Soil-Smart Wheat Supply Chain in Australia Mars, Gold Standard and Sustainable Food Lab

MARS CASE STUDY

Mars, Gold Standard and Sustainable Food Lab are helping Australian Farmers measure and reduce net greenhouse gas emissions from wheat

Mars Petcare has operated a pet food processing facility in Bathurst, Australia for over 40 years. As part of their Sustainable in a Generation Plan initiative, Mars has been working to improve sustainability and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from key supply chains. With that goal in mind, Mars has begun to work with wheat suppliers at its Bathurst plant to pilot approaches to reduce emissions at the farm-level while improving soil health and benefitting farmers.

Reducing fertilizer use, applying controlled traffic farming, and using cover crops and brown manures

Mars designed a program in partnership with the Sustainable Food Lab (SFL) to provide agronomic support to wheat farmers in Australia to improve farm productivity and use the Cool Farm Tool to measure reductions and sequestration of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Providing additional agronomic insights and a measurement tool lends a new dimension to how farmers view their farming systems, and sparked discussion among the growers on how they could grow wheat differently. On the strength of the initial phase of the project, the partners plan to recruit 200 farmers over approximately 700,000 hectares to adopt practices such as reducing fertilizer use, applying controlled traffic farming, and using cover crops and brown manures. These practices should yield multiple benefits that matter both to farmers and to the environment, such as improved soil health, greater resilience to weather shocks, higher yields, and reduced net GHG emissions.

Improved soil health, greater resilience to weather shocks, higher yields, and reduced net GHG emissions.

The Challenge: Accounting for the positive impact for both Mars and the farmers

To better understand how Mars could use the Cool Farm Tool data to estimate and communicate the benefits of Mars’ investment with wheat farmers, Mars engaged with Gold Standard’s ValueChange Program. ValueChange is a program developed with partners including World Resources Institute, CDP, WWF, Mars, Danone and the Livelihood’s Fund. ValueChange is designed to translate intervention-level GHG accounting into corporate GHG inventory reporting in line with the GHG Protocol – guidance that was previously lacking and making it difficult to calculate and attribute the climate impact of on the ground projects.

Mars’ goal is to design a program that can support farmer-driven outcomes that also ladder up to reductions in GHGs that benefit both Mars and planet. The ValueChange guidance enables companies like Mars to credibly calculate and communicate the GHG benefits achieved through supply chain programs, aligned with the GHG-Protocol, and count those benefits toward their Science Based Targets.

The Results

Gold Standard worked with Mars and the Sustainable Food Lab to conduct a preliminary review to confirm that the program’s quantification approach and data are aligned with Gold Standard’s Value Chain Intervention Guidance. The purpose of the review was also to highlight gaps in the Gold Standard guidance to be addressed in future iterations.

This review provided Mars with validation of the type of data needed, and how this data could be converted into emissions reductions used for corporate GHG inventory reporting. The team also provided guidance on what corresponding claims could be made with Gold Standard certification of the program.

700,000 hectares would lead to approximately 30,000 tonnes of emissions reduced and 145,000 tonnes of CO2 sequestered.

By May 2020, Mars expects to reduce GHG emissions by an estimated 612 tonnes and sequester 3,120 tonnes compared to a 2017 baseline. Continuing implementation across 700,000 hectares would lead to approximately 30,000 tonnes of emissions reduced and 145,000 tonnes of CO2 sequestered. Mars and the SFL will now seek partners in Australia to help them further scale up this high-potential program.

Value-adds of ValueChange

The preliminary review stage of the ValueChange Program enabled Mars and SFL to achieve:

  • Incorporation of the requirements for best practice design of their value chain intervention, including the Gold Standard principles, safeguards, stakeholder engagement and sustainable development benefits
  • Clear definition of their ‘supply shed’ and geographical scope of the intervention
  • Auditable calculation of emission reductions and removals per hectare and per tonne of goods purchased
  • Monitoring plan in line with the Value Chain Intervention Guidance
  • Guidelines for potential claims and communications on emission factors
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