Cool Soil Initiative

A paddock to product partnership bringing together key players in the grains supply chain to work with grain growers through regional farming systems groups to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This will lead to increased long-term sustainability and yield stability through adopting different farming strategies to increase soil health.
Project complete

In Partnership With:

Mars Petcare
Charles Sturt University
Manildra Group
Sustainable Food Lab
Allied Pinnacle
Corson Grain

Cool Soil Initiative

The Challenge:

As part of their Sustainable in a Generation Plan, Mars has been working to improve sustainability, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and to assist in building resilience in key supply chains. In 2017, Mars designed a program in partnership with the Sustainable Food Lab to provide agronomic support to wheat farmers in Australia to improve farm sustainability while evaluating the potential to reduce and sequester GHG emissions through various management strategies.

While Mars and Kellogg's continue to work on reducing their factory GHG emissions, they have identified that over 50 per cent of their emissions happen upstream from their manufacturing sites, from production and processing – including growing, and milling – as well as transport of materials used in their products.

The cropping sector has recognised that nutrient inputs have increased to maintain yields, due to depletion of soil fertility and organic matter. As a result, improving soil health is one of the top three production issues that farmers say will affect their farm over the next five years.

The Solution:

The Cool Soil Initiative project, which started in 2020, aimed to develop a scientifically credible framework for the food industry to support cropping farmers achieve both sustainable production and reduce GHG emissions.  

Using data analysis and digital solutions coupled with research, the focus was to identify innovative agronomic strategies to increase soil health and related function and support their trial and adoption.  

The project had to meet global and Australian protocols for emission data capture and sustainability reporting to ensure its relevance and impact. This included delivering a version of the Cool Farm Tool modified for Australian cropping system, aligned to the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory.  

The project enabled food businesses to receive comprehensive reports on Scope 3 emissions in their supply chain, which met the needs of their Australian operation and aligned with their global company reporting requirements.


The project has delivered a farmer-centric, scientific credible and robust framework for the food industry to work together pre-competitively to support cropping farmers in the reduction of GHG emissions, through the adoption of innovative farming strategies to increase soil health.

The project has:

  • Developed baseline paddock level GHG emissions data across a number of years of variable seasonal conditions and soil health on 200 farms and measured and track changes over time.
  • Refined how GHG emission calculations are made on-farm, to ensure that GHG data is highly credible, aligned to the Australia’s National GHG Inventory and globally compatible.
  • Brought together key players in the grains supply chain to support farmers to investigate innovative cropping practices to improve their soil health and in-turn reduce on-farm GHG emissions.

Read the final report.

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