Christmas came early for a cattle herdsman from Stellenbosch in the Western Cape who sold his share of credits earned from the sequestration of carbon in a farm’s soil to put down a R100 000 deposit for his first house.
Kasango Samkute, an employee at Farmer Angus, says as a former backyard dweller this signals a new start for him and his family. He tells Food For Mzansi, “I’m from Zimbabwe and I actually bought my house there. I am so blessed. Yoh! I really love my job and working with Farmer Angus because one day I want to be a farmer too.”
At Farmer Angus, the cattle, pigs and chickens are rotationally grazed on the Spier Wine Estate in a farming method known as regenerative agriculture. The method prevents overgrazing and encourages soil fertility.
It also sequesters carbon, which is vital for all plant life to grow as well reduce soil erosion. Keeping carbon in the soil means less impact on the climate and for farmers, it also means revenue.
Credible Carbon, the registry that handles the sale of carbon credits, recently conducted an audit of the soil at Farmer Angus, and found it to be richer in carbon than the last audit that they did in 2017. They were able to sell most of these carbon credits to Nedbank, who are major players in carbon trading in South Africa.
A total of R273 000 was paid directly to the farm’s staff, of which Samkute received the biggest share due to his cattle having processed the majority of carbon sequestered.
Angus McIntosh, the inspirational farmer behind the Farmer Angus brand says, “We are a very small farm. At 132 hectares, we sequestered 7,101 tonnes of carbon dioxide over a three year period with a severely understocked farm (300 too few cattle) and three drought years.
“In comparison, a return flight from Cape Town to London emits two tonnes of CO2. Imagine how many millions of tons of CO2 the big farmers in the fertile areas could sequester?”
Yet, McIntosh warns, “conventional farming wisdom is that the only way to produce beef is by concentrating them in a feedlot and by feeding them grains, constant antibiotics and asthma drugs at life end to bulk them up in the last 38 days. This emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every step of its inflammatory disease inducing way.”
Using this data, another Farmer Angus employee, Jon-Jon Abelheim, did a life cycle analysis which determines the total carbon footprint of a product. It was calculated that for each kilogram of protein produced there is a negative of 12.11 kilograms of carbon dioxide emitted.
- To learn more about Abelheim’s work, see his assessment of the carbon dioxide footprint of beef production as well as an analysis of five different stages of production. McIntosh confirms to Food For Mzansi that he doesn’t claim this to be carbon negative beef as the carbon credits have been sold and, as such, the beef is carbon neutral.