Former western Queensland fencing contractor and new Marcus Oldham graduate Sam Curr could see how complicated the idea of calculating a carbon footprint was for many of the primary producers he was encountering on college tours, so he decided to simplify the process for them.
The 21-year-old budding entrepreneur has spent the past five or six months working on an app, based on the Greenhouse Accounting Frameworks that governments use, which works out a farm's footprint in 10 steps, on a mobile device.
"The GAFs that were developed by the University of Melbourne use heavy duty spreadsheets - I've simplified that to a digital user-friendly format," he said.
It's an idea with the potential to facilitate a much greater understanding of how much carbon is being generated, and uptake of measures that can be put in place to sequester carbon, according to Queensland cattle producer Simon Daley.
"I've discussed the app's capabilities with Sam and I think it's the way to go," he said.
"Everyone's got a mobile phone these days, and this means they will be able to upload carbon information on their own property, themselves.
"Whether we like it or not, it's coming - consumers are asking for the information, the whole chain is having to display their carbon footprint.
"I think the app will allow a lot of people to understand it all on their own property, in their own time."
Fellow beef producer John Sylvester, whose family runs around 5000 head of cattle on 10,000ha around Tamworth in NSW and Roma and the Arcadia Valley in Queensland, said the thing he liked about the application was that it was user-friendly.
"This seems to be very straightforward, in a world where we've all got so much paperwork," he said.
"This is the way the world's moving and we've got to be accountable, like everyone.
"Our end processors are heading that way - JBS and Thomas Foods - and we're doing a bit in the grassfed market.
"If we can show we're carbon neutral, it bodes well for market sales, and it adds weight to our claims of being clean and green."
Mr Curr said everyone in primary production was talking about reducing carbon but some were in danger of getting left behind.
The idea for the My Footprint app came about when it became apparent to him that a lot of the farmers he was speaking with in Victoria didn't know the first step to take to measure their carbon output.
"I thought I'd simplify it for them but I had no idea how to do it," he said.
"I got onto an app developer company in Melbourne, and helped them understand carbon and farming, and it went from there.
"As far as I know, there's nothing like this in the market."
Mr Curr said the app would be coming out in January for an annual subscription fee, and he would be offering a consultancy service to "help people plug in the numbers" or input data.
He said he was currently in early talks with corporate clients who were looking to roll the app out to suppliers.
"There's also an education page on what gases might be coming from your farm," he said, stressing that he wasn't a carbon consultant or giving advice in that area.
Mr Curr comes from Glenample Station in the Aramac region of central west Queensland, where he started a rural contracting business when he left school, fencing, yard building and laying pipe, working for Mr Daley and others before deciding he needed a bit more knowledge on the business side and undertaking a one-year agribusiness course at Marcus Oldham.
Mr Daley said the app would likely show many producers' carbon footprints weren't as bad as they feared.
"If industry can use this and take it forward, we can really show how we as custodians are looking after the land," he said.
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