Silver Fern Farms - Net Carbon Zero by Nature

Silver Fern Farms commits to its course for a sustainable future

"Posted" 01/10/2021

Net Carbon Zero by Nature

'Net Carbon Zero by Nature' is New Zealand's first certified grass-fed, end-to-end Net Carbon Zero red meat, where 100% of end-to-end emissions have been off set within the farms where the animals we're raised. We are using whole-of farm thinking to reimagine the traditionally unproductive land into something of real value and positive benefit.

Silver Fern Farms are supporting and incentivizing our farmers to protect, restore and add to the amount of native bush and tree plantings – gullies, fence lines, summer shade and shelter belts, so that our farm environments are better able to capture carbon, and become more biodiverse. This approach is our way of supporting and encouraging our farmers to care for the land.

Beef made better | Care you can trust, and taste

What is ‘Net Carbon Zero’?

'Net Carbon Zero' means that the total emissions generated by each kilogram of product, are independently measured and certified, right throughout the whole life of the product.

To achieve and maintain our Net Carbon Zero certification, for every kilogram of product sold, the equivalent amount of emissions need to be removed by vegetation occurring on the group of farms that supply the product.

The Carbon Lifecycle

Figure 1: The Carbon Lifecycle - A breakdown of where the emissions in our product come from.

How did we come up with the Net Carbon Zero product?

Silver Fern Farms recently worked with a group of farmers to understand what the opportunities were to reduce emissions and optimize carbon sequestration. Our work with those farmers showed that many of these farms had a medium-term path to being ‘carbon neutral’.  

Our aim with the program is to support those farmers supplying this product to accelerate their journey to low carbon production. Our work with farmers also showed us that there is already a lot of woody vegetation occurring on these farms actively sequestering carbon.

What is Woody Vegetation?

The Woody vegetation we are working with to provide removals are made up of permanent woody plants that are growing naturally or have been planted on our suppliers’ farms in places like gullies and riparian zones. They include both areas of exotic and native plants, some of which are rare native trees.

These areas serve multiple purposes on the farm and surrounding environments, including providing stock shade and shelter, stabilizing erosion prone soil, protecting and shading riverbanks and providing habitat for thriving native animals and bird life.

What is Carbon Sequestration?

Carbon Sequestration is the long-term removal, capture or sequestration of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Woody vegetation is actively pulling Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to grow, which helps to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases, contributing to climate change, in the atmosphere.

Who is Toitū?

Toitū Envirocare is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, a government-owned Crown Research Institute.

Toitū certification gives us independent verification of our Net Carbon Zero products.  Toitū certification helps provide confidence that our claims are independently backed. Our membership of the Toitū Net Carbon Zero programme requires Silver Fern Farms to actively work within the lifecycle of the product to reduce emissions over time. 

How do we measure and quantify how much CO2 is being removed by the woody vegetation on our suppliers’ farms?

We use satellite imagery and Artificial Intelligence to map and classify the vegetation on farms.  The vegetation is then assigned a carbon value depending on its type, age, state and size.

Farmers are required to check that this remote mapping matches their in depth on-farm knowledge of the vegetation.  This process has been approved and certified by Toitū.

Silver Fern Farms - Net Carbon Zero Program

Our first Net Carbon Zero product is from our 100% Angus program.

We’ve calculated the emissions associated with each kilogram of the Net Carbon Zero product sold in market, and we will purchase the equivalent amount of removals from suppliers to the 100% Angus program.

The emissions associated with the product are balanced by the removals we purchase from farmers, which meets the requirements for Toitū Net Carbon Zero certification.

Silver Fern Farms Net Carbon Zero 100% Angus will be launched in the US in December 2021.