I live on a solar farm. You likely do too. Driven by the sun and rain, converted into a year round protein-dense source of human energy, by cattle.
Each year Australian beef producers create 2.6 million tonnes of beef. That is 7.4 billion kWh of human energy, laced with vitamins and minerals.
It is truly incredible to think on what grass fed beef production is at its most elemental level and what it does when managed sustainably.
Deconstructed from the plate to the paddock, what are our key inputs and outputs, and how does our system operate on balance?
Our product, beef, is the original wonder food; energy and protein dense, rich in the essential vitamins and minerals. It is available year round, can be frozen and preserved.
Beef helped to drive the human experience from the trees to the moon.
Cattle produce nutrients from plant-based food by fermenting it in a specialized stomach prior to digestion.
The products of this process are beef, methane, and high quality fertilizer.
Methane is used to vilify the beef industry; however, methane is not a fossil fuel.
Methane is a short life cycle greenhouse gas, absorbed back into the environment on a 10-year biogenic carbon cycle. It becomes carbon dioxide, a key input into the process of photosynthesis.
Grass, our original nutrient source, through the process of photosynthesis, uses solar energy to split carbon dioxide and water into glucose and oxygen - the gas upon which our very being depends.
Cattle and grass can be managed in balance with each other and the environment.
A cattle herd in a steady state produces a constant level of methane over a 10-year cycle. Herd productivity can then drive down atmospheric methane levels.
Grass can stabilise soils from erosion, fix carbon from the atmosphere back into the soil and provide a biodiverse habitat for other native species to coexist with cattle.
Let's contrast this cyclical system with renewable energy production systems.
While advancements are being made to create new technologies more efficiently and with lower toxic byproducts, renewable systems use wind and sun - along with metal and minerals, cathodes, anodes and electrolytes in batteries.
Current systems have a limited life cycle and are not self-regenerating like cattle and grass.
No technology can currently limit its byproducts to oxygen - which sustains life itself - or cyclical production inputs that feed back into the system, like methane.
No alternative energy production system currently operates as elegantly as grass fed beef production.
The result? We are cattle producers, oxygen producers, carbon fixers, providers of ecosystem services and renewable energy investors.
We provide all these services complementary with the beef at your local supermarket or butcher.
With brains running on beef, hopefully future generations may be able to invent an energy system as perfect as the one we already have.
Our focus needs to be creating broad recognition of our magnificent production system, and natural capital markets for our outstanding, complementary services.
- CQ beef producer and food manufacturer, Mark Davie