Gregory Downs Emissions Reduction

Gregory Downs

Emissions Reduction at Gregory Downs

Gregory Downs is a Northern Queensland cattle breeding operation encompassing over 266,000 hectares and running approximately 30,000 head of cattle. It is a rangeland system comprising native pastures on clay plains and woody vegetation along waterways and in lighter country. Vegetative growth predominantly occurs in short wet season followed by extended dry. The station is suitable for breeding cattle, but less so for efficiently growing cattle; emissions of breeder operations are naturally higher as the breeding herd contributes to production and high progeny rather than direct weight gain at turnoff.

Due to its remote location, Gregory Downs relies on diesel generators for energy and has a relatively higher fossil fuel usage than the Paraway average. The sparse landscape and lack of significant historical clearing at Gregory Downs limits environmental planting and regeneration opportunities.

Gregory Downs Livestock Emissions

The following initiatives are being pursued by Paraway at Gregory Downs:

Herd & Flock Management

Pasture Management: Improving pasture through managing stocking rates to match pasture availability and incorporating legume species to provide a more nutritious diet.

Herd Genetics: Trialling introduction of Santa Gertrudis genetics to optimise growth rates, fertility, and overall productivity on station.

Methane Abatement Feed Additives: Not currently viable but Paraway is monitoring developments in methane abating feed additives and suitable methods of delivery for rangeland assets.

Fossil Fuel Transition

Diesel Power Generator Conversion: Replacing diesel generators with solar-hybrid solutions.

Water Infrastructure Conversion: Replacing diesel pumps with solar models and replacement of inefficient water storage systems to reduce pumping requirements.

Carbon Storage Opportunities

HIR Opportunity: Changing management of whitewood regrowth along Gregory River site and manage livestock access to promote regeneration of native vegetation.

Soil Carbon Opportunity: Incorporating legumes into pasture to increase soil nitrogen, which increases pasture growth and soil carbon sequestration.

Herd Management

Paraway focuses on improving efficiency by operating at scale and optimising the herd genetics. Recognising the importance of technological developments in this area, Paraway also continues to monitor updates in feed additive technology and applicability to large-scale Northern operations.

Pasture Management

Gregory Downs’ operations are complementary to the local landscape and weather cycles. Storm rainfall during the wet season enables significant pasture growth for grazing over the subsequent long dry season. This is well matched to breeding operations as cows calve down when the pasture is at its most nutritious, and calves are weaned and sold allowing the cows to maintain condition as the pasture declines in quality, without the grazing pressure that would be needed to grow the weaners.

Paraway controls grazing on Gregory Downs to best manage pasture for productivity. Stocking decisions are closely informed by seasonal rainfall and pasture availability outlook to ensure adequate feed for breeding cattle to maximise fertility and calving. Informed pasture grazing also prevents overgrazing which degrades land condition and reduces soil carbon.

Herd Genetics

Paraway focuses the genetic composition of Gregory Downs’ herd to continually optimise its suitability to the local environment: focusing on fertility and growth rates, as well as genetics adapted to the environment – driving improvements in enteric methane output via superior feed conversion and importantly improved animal welfare outcomes.

An example of this is the trialling of Santa Gertrudis Bulls with the Brahman herd to increase fertility and calf growth rates. Santa Gertrudis cattle are well adapted to the Gulf environment and should perform well. The performance of these bulls will be available in 2025.

Feed Additives

Feed additives are not currently viable in rangeland, grazing operations such as Gregory Downs as delivery methods to incorporate supplements into cattle diets are not practical. Paraway continues to monitor developments and opportunities to apply methane abatement technologies within the portfolio.

Fossil Fuels Transition

Key opportunities to reduce fossil fuel inputs exist at Paraway’s large, off-grid cattle stations which rely on diesel. Connecting on-site energy infrastructure to renewable sources is a key opportunity for these stations in lowering their emission profile.

Power Generator Conversion

Due to its remoteness, Gregory Downs relies on diesel generators to provide electricity to the station offices, housing, and workshops. Paraway is undertaking commercial and operational diligence to convert Gregory Downs’ diesel generators to hybrid-solar power systems, with the potential to reduce the total diesel consumption by up to 80% equating to approximately 40,000L of diesel or 152 tCO2e annually.

Paraway engaged a renewable energy supplier for the project works, with the aim to complete the conversion of these systems in 2025.

Water Pump Conversion

Gregory Downs has a total of 7 diesel-powered pumps for water bores located across the property. Additionally, there are 13 river pumps and 7 transfer pumps. The Paraway team is developing a replacement strategy to convert the diesel-powered infrastructure to solar alternatives. Hybrid systems are being considered, where solar systems are connected to a generator to ensure no interruptions to pumping and that livestock have adequate water.

Paraway is converting existing pumps to solar powered pumps via an accelerated replacement plan to bring forward the implementation timeline for this initiative. Diesel consumption savings associated with each pump has the potential to reduce emissions by approximately 15tCO2e annually.

Carbon Storage Potential

Carbon storage opportunities depend on a station’s specific landscape. natural features and climate. Paraway has identified the potential for woody vegetation regeneration and soil carbon sequestration at Gregory Downs and is analysing these opportunities further.

Gregory River Regeneration Project

Paraway commenced regenerating the Gregory River riparian zone in 2021, fencing an area between the river and along the main road to protect it from grazing. Historically, the woody vegetation was managed through both natural and deliberate burning and heavy stocking rates to open the area up, rejuvenate the grasses and control cattle tick.

The project is showing promising initial re-growth of native whitewood trees. Paraway performed carbon modelling of the site using Flintpro which projected sequestration of over 100,000tCO2e over a 25-year period. Due to uncertainty around permanence of regrowth, satellite imagery and on the ground observation will be used for ongoing monitoring of the project over its lifespan.

Soil Carbon and Flux Tower Trial

The dynamics of soil carbon in the climate of northwest QLD is largely unknown, as is the ability for soils to retain carbon over the prolonged dry season. To better understand the viability of soil carbon sequestration in this region, Paraway has partnered with Agrimix Pastures and Queensland University of Technology to research the potential, through a registered soil carbon project.

Paraway commenced a soil carbon project on a 400ha site at Gregory Downs, incorporating legumes into pasture to increase soil nitrogen, which increases pasture growth and soil carbon. The project will provide valuable data for the industry, to build an understanding of the feasibility of soil carbon sequestration in this part of Australia.

Understanding soil carbon sequestration is evolving and requires measurement, verification and recording to ensure integrity of such projects. Paraway has commenced a research trial alongside the soil carbon project at Gregory Downs utilising Flux Towers to verify the impacts of improved pasture management techniques.

Note: At present, Paraway has not claimed any ACCUs from soil or woody vegetation carbon sequestration and we are looking at the opportunities as a way to meet our targets.

Key Areas

Principles for Emissions Reduction

Livestock Emissions

Producing more per unit of emission by endeavouring to ensure all animals are productive, with a focus on pasture quality, herd management, animal health, reproductive success, and low stress management.

In the future, we expect methane abatement technologies (including supplements) to provide viable options to reduce methane emissions from livestock. Currently, the options available are not financially viable, nor is there any agreed methodologies to calculate the emissions reduction from these technologies. Paraway remains actively involved in research and trials.

Fossil Fuels

Reduce fossil fuel usage by improving efficiency and transition to renewables on station where possible. Every Paraway station’s generators, pumps and vehicles are assessed for suitability for conversion to renewable energy alternatives.

All energy purchased on-grid is subject to a green Power Purchasing Agreement (PPA).

Carbon Projects

Paraway continues to assess its portfolio for potential to sequester carbon today or in the future - in particular, considering soils and landscapes.

Paraway prioritises reducing its emissions utilising commercially viable initiatives with an intention for residual emissions to be inset via biogenic insets from sequestration.

Emerging technologies will be essential to reduce livestock emissions and Paraway participates in trials of new operating practices and technologies.

Note: Paraway has identified these opportunities to reduce the emissions intensity of its operations current as at 2024. Paraway’s mix of decarbonisation opportunities is expected to evolve as new industry technologies and innovations develop and Paraway will adapt its solutions where appropriate.

Emissions Abatement Across Paraway Assets

Emission reductions on three farms representing key parts of Paraway’s portfolio are extracted here to provide insights on the station-level:

Gregory Downs
Burindi Station
Barton Station