At a glance

Who: Wayne Pech along with wife Jody and children Sophie (18) & Olivia (15).

Where: North Stirlings, Gnowangerup. 100km from Albany, 350km from Perth.

Property/organisation: North Stirling Downs Pty Ltd, 13000ha, 55% crop (6500ha) & 45% self replacing merino sheep (17000 to 35000 depending upon season & time of year). 300mm predominantly winter rainfall.

Gnowangerup farmer Wayne Pech and his bike

Jody and I view ourselves as custodians of nature for future generations and as such have a responsibility to leave the land in a better position than we found it. After protracted succession planning with the previous generation, we are conscious of getting the next generation invested as soon as possible. With our daughters asking questions about the future of our planet we feel it’s important to make business decisions with the environment in mind.

What first got you thinking about climate solutions in agriculture?

Since the 1980’s there has been discussion amongst our family members about the declining rainfall trend in our area. This has motivated us to continually adapt our farming practices. Witnessing Western Australian mineral resources being sent overseas without any value-adding has always made me think there must be a better way. Witnessing ecosystems and animals being removed around the world along with poverty and waste management issues has always made me think about how important it is to carefully manage the assets we own and are responsible for.

Why is carbon neutrality important to your farm/industry?

Carbon neutrality means our business, North Stirling Downs, is doing our bit to make the world a better place. If we can prove a carbon-neutral business can also be profitable then other businesses will follow. It’s much harder to talk the talk if you’re not walking the walk.

What steps towards carbon neutrality have you taken so far, and how is it going?

We have undertaken a 100-hectare revegetation project to offset some of our farm’s emissions, with a view to doing another 100 hectares each or every second year for the next ten years.

We are actively searching for an industry-accepted carbon calculator so we can measure what we’re doing now to learn what we must do to become carbon neutral.

I’m encouraging our grower groups to acknowledge climate change and realise that the agricultural industry must be proactive and tell our good story otherwise other industries will drown our message and decision-makers will put legislation in place that inhibits agriculture.

What have been some of the challenges and lessons?

Learning the best way to communicate with people, and that what works for one individual or group may not work for others. I need to be careful not to lecture and make people think I’m accusing them of doing the wrong thing. Be prepared for bumps (criticism) along the way and celebrate the wins, no matter how small, otherwise it can be very hard to stay positive. Words need to be chosen very carefully as people can read a lot into this issue.

Any inspiring/encouraging messages for others?

Finding a way to start conversations and create trust is a simple way to get involved, improve your positivity and feel like you are doing something. I made a goal to cycle 2030km in 3 months to promote action on climate change. Initially, I thought no one was paying attention, but then an article by one reporter got into a couple of papers, then two other reporters approached me and finally most places I went people were asking what I was doing and why I was doing it.

If you have the ability, put your money where your mouth is. Our business/property is facilitating substantial revegetation projects to improve our property and offset some of our emissions, but also to create a conversation about the what, why, and how, etc. I am also lobbying (along with others) for an industry-accepted carbon calculator so that agricultural producers can measure where they are, where they need to get to and tell a story about how they are going to achieve that.

Last updated: 11 September 2020

What’s your story?

Do you have or know a good story related to net-zero work and plans in WA’s food and fibre supply chain? Please let AgZero2030 know at [email protected], or @AgZero2030 on Twitter and Instagram.

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