Healthy Soil = Climate Health = Human Health (Part 2)

CO2 released from burning fossil fuels, whether in electricity, transportation, buildings, or industry, contributes roughly 62% of the current warming. The remaining 38% comes from other sources, including roughly 24% from land use and agriculture.

Interestingly, electricity generation and land use & agriculture are?basically equal?in terms of their global impact on climate change. Needless to say, addressing emissions from electricity gets far more attention and funding.

However, a growing number of investors are showing an increasing appetite for Sustainable Responsible Investing (SRI) in sustainable agriculture and food systems across asset classes. A subset of investors is demonstrating growing interest in financing not simply ?sustainable? agriculture but agriculture that is deemed explicitly ?regenerative.?

What regenerative means for farmers and investors remains highly in flux, but broadly it tends to refer to more holistic approaches to agricultural systems that work with natural systems to restore, improve, and enhance the biological vitality, carrying capacity, and ?ecosystem services? of farming landscapes. Regenerative farming operations also aim to support the resilience of the rural communities and broader value chains in which they are situated.

A significant part of regenerative farming focuses on the restoration of soils that have been degraded by the industrial, agricultural system. Its methods promote healthier ecosystems by rebuilding soil organic matter through holistic farming and grazing techniques. In short, regenerative agriculture practitioners let nature do the work.

In Australia, farmer Niels Olsen, on a mission to improve soil health on his 121 hectares at Hallora, invented a sustainable and efficient way to pump microbiology and nutrients back into his paddocks. It all started about a decade ago, when consecutive years of mineral fertiliser applications turned the family?s grass brown, not green (as a point of interest, nitrous oxide emissions from artificial fertilizers represent 6% of total global emissions).

Olsen uses his invention called a Renovator to sows seeds, aerate the soil and cultivate green manure while retaining a large amount of ground cover, all in a single pass of the paddock. He plants a combination of seeds like snow peas, oats, barley, rye, corn vetch, chicory, plantain and brassicas in the winter. When summer comes, the machine will be run through again, sowing crops together like maize, sorghum, oats, peas and barley.

This smorgasbord can be grazed several times, but food for livestock is not its only purpose.

The mass of plant roots stores carbon, improving fertility, aeration and water-holding capacity, allowing the soil to support multiple plants.

“We have converted that 50 to 60 millimetres of topsoil into 200 millimetres of topsoil in the last five years, which has greatly increased the ability to push out some pasture on top,” Mr Olsen said.

His soils have gone from holding 3 per cent of carbon to more than 10 per cent. This high carbon content also helps retain valuable water in the soil.

In 2015, Olsen became the first farmer in Australia to receive carbon credits for the impressive increase of 11.3 tonnes of carbon per hectare he achieved on his property, earning $4000 initially, with potential to increase that to $15,000 a year.

Meanwhile in New Zealand in?the harsh climate of the Maniototo?Plain, crops grow lushly after a similar process of multiple seed planting has been employed. Seeds include lucerne, fescue, chicory, cornflowers, peas, lentils, linseed, rye corn, fava beans, buckwheat, vetch, radish, mustard, millet, oats, beet, rape, turnip, sorghum, kale and a bunch of different clovers. The result is a confection of greenery, twisting and climbing over itself in its bid to reach the sun.

Grants/Subsidies/Funding

Due to COVID-19, the Australian Tax Office (ATO) has created a new working from home (WFH) claim shortcut. Now people can claim a rate of 80 cents per hour for all their running expenses, rather than calculating them individually. Here is an example of how it works:

Bianca is an employee who works as a copywriter. She started working from home on 16 March as a result of COVID-19 and has replaced face-to-face meetings with online video conferencing.

Bianca has just bought a new laptop, desk, chair and stationery. She also wants to claim gas, electricity, phone and internet costs due to working from home. The shortcut method means she can now claim all her expenses at a rate of 80 cents per hour, but she has to keep timesheets.

Alternatively, she can claim using the existing WFH calculations. Using that method, Bianca can claim the desk, chair, gas and electricity under the 52 cents per hour rule, but she?d have to calculate depreciation on the laptop, and work out which proportion of her laptop, stationery, phone and internet is work-related, and only claim for that part.

The three rules of deductibility still apply:

  1. You must have spent the money yourself (and not be reimbursed by your employer).
  2. You can only claim things directly-related to your job/the income you earn.
  3. You must keep a record to substantiate the claim.

Go to https://www.ato.gov.au/general/covid-19/support-for-individuals-and-employees/employees-working-from-home/ for more info.

Eco-tip for the day ? Improve window performance

Windows let in light and?heat. Windows can cost you a lot of money to keep your home cool or warm meaning using more energy to keep your home comfortable (huge energy bills).

The sun is the main source of heat gain in your home. Sun streaming through your windows has the same heating effect as an electric bar heater for every square metre of window! This is great in winter, but a massive problem in summer. Shading windows from the outside is the most effective way of preventing unwanted heat, an uncomfortable home and high energy costs in summer. Being smart with your shading can let the winter warmth in and keep the summer heat out.

Windows located on the east and west walls of your home are the biggest problem as the morning and evening sun is low and cannot be blocked out by the eaves of the house. Shading for east or west windows, needs to be low over the window and removable in the winter (to let the heat in).

Use of external blinds and awnings (light in colour and reflective) in summer dramatically reduces the incoming heat and provides shade. They cut out about 30% to 50% of the heat and can easily be lifted up to enjoy natural light when the sun is off the window.

Other things you can do include growing a small tree or a large shrub outside of the window. Deciduous varieties will drop their leaves to let in the winter sun. Planting can also cut 30 to 50% of the summer heat from a window.

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Most houses have eaves to shade windows to the north from the high summer sun. The lower winter sun can come in under the eaves to warm the house. Some solar-passive homes often have pergolas to shade the windows and alfresco areas to the north without cutting out winter warmth. Add fixed awnings where there are no eaves or shade sails to protect paved areas from the summer sun. A paved or concreted area heats up and continues to radiate heat in at night.

Share watch

Following record online demand for its Dirty Clean Food products,?Wide Open Agriculture (ASX: WOA) has?unveiled its highest ever quarterly revenue. During the March 2020 quarter, Wide Open Agriculture revealed record revenue of $393,689, up 32% on the December 2019 quarter.

Underpinning the record quarterly revenue was the company?s highest ever monthly sales during March of $179,353 via online and retail sales from supermarket channels. This has offset the fall in orders from restaurants and cafes, which are expected to continue declining due to COVID-19 shutdowns.

With online food shopping and supermarkets remaining essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic, Wide Open Agriculture said demand for its products continued to ?grow rapidly?, highlighting the company?s ?resilient business model? during challenging conditions.

Wide Open Agriculture also noted that the sales arose purely out of Western Australia, with growth plans underway including new products and launching into new markets both nationally and internationally.

As Australia?s only regenerative farming food brand, Dirty Clean Food provides a direct line of sight back to the farm for its produce through transparent supply chains and farming practices. Dirty Clean Food only sources food from regenerative farming practices that involve nurturing and maintaining the land by promoting soil health and biodiversity.

Available produce includes 100% grass fed and regeneratively farmed beef and lamb with goat milk and a plant-based protein offering also in the works.

Wide Open Agriculture has secured two new partners for its online home delivery service including leading burger chain Short Order Burger Co and sustainable seafood company Fins Seafood. Short Order Burger and Dirty Clean Food are currently working on developing a 100% grass-fed beef patty for home delivery.

The shares closed on the ASX at $0.125 yesterday. The one-year sales graph reflects its market movement over the last year and there is nothing there to make one overly excited. However, the company has only been listed since July 2018. With solid growth plans in a growing niche in the agricultural market, it is a share to watch.

Share watch update

Ecofibre (EOF:ASX) has today commenced distribution of Hemp Black facemasks across the United States.

Mesoblast Limited (ASX:MSB; Nasdaq:MESO), global leader in cellular medicines for inflammatory diseases, today announced a Phase 2/3 randomized, placebo-controlled trial to rigorously confirm whether its allogeneic mesenchymal stem cell therapy remestemcel-L provides a survival benefit in moderate/severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) due to COVID-19 has commenced enrolment.

More than 20 medical centres across the United States will participate in the trial which is expected to complete enrolment within three to four months, with interim analyses planned which could result in stopping the trial early for efficacy or futility. This is a long-term one, but the company is surviving and growing in tough times.

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Financial indicators

The VIX fear gauge is up 1.14 points since Tuesday EST to 34.15.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average has had a net rise since last Tuesday EST of 211.94 points or 0.88% to 24,345.72 (but retreated overnight), the STOXX 600 up 4.59 points or 1.37% to 340.03 and the Shanghai Composite index up 44.68 points or?1.73% to 2,860.08.

Gold down to 1,692.30. US 10-year Treasury Bonds unchanged on 0.664 and oil up to 19.09. Cryptos keep climbing as a perceived safe-haven, with Bitcoin up 1,045.97 since Tuesday or 13.51% to 8.789.04.

ASX 200 up 201 points or 3.78% from Tuesday to 5,522.40. The Aussie dollar up slightly to 65.08 US cents.

Eco Market Spot Prices

LGC $30.50

STC $39.00

ESC $27.85

VEEC $34.25

Sources:?RenewEconomy, demandmanager,? Reuters, SMH, Market Watch, greenglobaltravel

2020-05-10T00:55:38+11:00