JDK share their user experience feedback on the CCC carbon calculator.
The Confronting Climate Change Initiative is a carbon footprinting project, developed to support SA’s wine and fruit sectors by identifying and responding to the risks and opportunities associated with carbon emissions.
The CCC asked JD Kirsten (Pty) Ltd (a.k.a. JDK), a table grape producer and one of their longstanding users to share some of their experiences with the online CCC carbon calculator.Read More
Family-owned South African based company, JDK specialises in the production and packing of premium quality table grapes. The Kirsten family, who own the enterprise, have been farming with table grapes in Paarl for over a 100 years after the family settled in this beautiful and historical town next to the Berg River in 1916.
The CCC Initiative, a carbon footprinting project, supports SA’s wine and fruit sectors through identifying and responding to the risks and opportunities associated with carbon emissions.
Currently the fourth generation is managing the business. They predominantly serve the export market, however, locally they supply to Woolworths and subscribe to Woolworths Farming for the Future.
JDK’s history with CCC
Having measured their carbon footprint with the CCC carbon calculator annually since 2015, JDK will be conducting their seventh iteration this year. Back in 2014, JDK identifi ed a need for someone to project lead sustainability and compliance within the business. In 2015, Lara Kirsten joined the business after several years in corporate retail. One of her fi rst tasks was to look at JDK’s carbon footprint, as this was something that their supplier base was very focused on. Lara then attended some of the CCC training days and the rest
The company saw the CCC carbon calculator as a good tool with which to measure their carbon footprint. Of particular interest to them was the benchmarking that CCC offers – the CCC tool allowed JDK to compare their own carbon footprint to other farms in the same region. Furthermore, the idea of being able to capture and track data annually and having all their data together and online, was of real value to JDK.
Which regions participate in the CCC Initiative?
From 2011 to 2020 the CCC database (incl. graded and ungraded data) has grown to cover 9195 unique hectares of grape farms in South Africa. This represents 44% of the table grape industry in the country.
JDK’s sustainability projects
Their philosophy is centred around economic success, social responsibility and environmental sustainability, with innovation at the root of JDK’s success. They supply to premium markets globally and in order to supply to these markets, they have to comply with the highest accredited standards.
Apart from calculating their carbon footprint, JDK also runs various social and environmental projects and recycle general waste. All funds generated from recycling goes to the farm workers. They have gone to great lengths to educate everyone living on the farms, and the farming communities take great pride in the achievements around recycling. Other environmental projects include organic compost production and invasive alien plant clearing.
Waste handling could have a significant impact on the carbon footprint of an
enterprise. For example, the recycling of waste will result in a lower carbon footprint than disposing of it at a landfi ll site. In this vein, JDK is working towards lowering their carbon emission through the source separation of their waste and recycling.
Composting also plays an important role in soil health, which results in a myriad of benefi ts in terms of production, but also the lowering of carbon emissions. One such benefit would be the increase in soil water holding capacity, which will reduce the amount of water required to irrigate your crops, which in turn means reduced electricity usage for the pumping of water.
Using less electricity is not only good for your pocket, it also results in a reduction in farm level carbon emissions. The CCC Initiative, a carbon foot-printing project, supports SA’s wine and fruit sectors through identifying and responding to the risks and opportunities associated with carbon emissions.
CCC supports JDK in their carbon reduction strategy
In many ways the CCC tool has helped JDK to shape their broader sustainability goals for the future. Calculating their carbon footprint with the CCC tool has allowed JDK to become more aware of the impact of their inputs, and to develop an improved understanding of which inputs and activities contribute most to their overall carbon emissions.
At some stage in their carbon reduction journey JDK considered installing solar panels on their packhouse. With the CCC tool they were able to see that their packhouse electricity use was actually not one of the main contributors to their carbon footprint, as they only pack for four months of the year. Installing solar panels would neither make fi nancial sense nor lower their overall carbon footprint significantly.
Since JDK has started calculating their carbon footprint, they have also looked at ways to reduce their fuel use. For example, they have gradually started replacing old tractors with more fuel-effi cient models. The fi rst step in reducing fuel consumption is to lower speed, so JDK have capped the speed on all tractors, trucks, and other farm vehicles. They also track all their vehicles to make sure no unnecessary driving takes place.
Realising that synthetic fertilisers actually contribute substantially to their carbon footprint and that these fertilisers also have several negative impacts on the soil and vineyards has helped JDK to set longterm goals to reduce the use of synthetic fertilisers. According to their latest carbon footprint report, JDK’s pure nitrogen input per bearing hectare, as well as per ton fruit produced, were much lower than that of other table grape farms in the region. The fact that they are able to check fertiliser usage over a 12-month period and compare it to previous years, also helps to maintain accountability within JDK’s management structure. JDK often uses their carbon footprint results in presentations to their board of directors and/or their clients.
Main image: View over a JDK farm. Photographs by JDK