It’s no secret that immediate action is required to deal with the big challenges we are facing globally, whether it be climate change, loss of biodiversity or social issues such as inequality. In 2020, amidst lockdowns and a global pandemic, our team of Actionists put their heads together to figure out how we could return to better. How we could create a system that drives meaningful action towards a better, kinder, more positive future for the planet.
Years of research, innovation and prototyping had already gone into this work, but we needed to rapidly scale the solutions. Working with both our Growers and our markets we were able to do so. With the goal to drive progress over perfection, connection instead of separation, and tools not rules, ZQRX began.
Since 2007, The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) have been working with wool growers to supply the world’s most ethically sourced wool under the ZQ brand. ZQ is a third party audited standard that requires Growers to thoroughly understand key animal health, environmental and social issues and adhere to a range of best farm management practices. ZQ is already the leading ethical wool in the world, but we know our Growers are doing work that goes above and beyond this already high bar.
We are highly aware of the increasing consumer demand for not only ethical wool but for wool which is bettering the environment and improving personal and community well-being. With this in mind, we wanted to develop a solution that would both celebrate Growers and meet this growing consumer demand.
Through ZQRX we are driving a shift towards regenerative mindset at meaningful scale. There is no one dimensional solution to regeneration, which is why the Regenerative Index (RX) measures and incentivises improvements through 15 key performance indicators (KPI’s).
ZQRX goes beyond sustainability and focuses on meaningful actions that will contribute to improvement across the whole farm system. The Regenerative Index holistically examines the qualities of ZQ-certified properties, highlighting and measuring practices that go above and beyond the ZQ system. Regenerative Agriculture has the potential to be part of a solution to the world's most pressing environmental and societal challenges, focusing on improving soil health, creating more resilient farming systems and increasing biodiversity to work with, not against, nature. For NZM, Regenerative Agriculture is much more than a set of farming practices, it is a change in mindset that questions the status quo and strives for continual improvement.
ZQRX is a collaborative action platform, it challenges brands and growers to give more than they take. Brands work with ZQRX Growers, helping to incentivise and drive the change we want to see on the ground. Together we can work towards the mutual goal of leaving this planet better than we found it.
The 15 KPI’s are split into three categories: environment, animals, and people.
Environment: biodiversity, waste, water, climate, land
Animals: management, nutrition, physical environment, health, protection
People: staff & contractors, health & wellness, diversity & inclusion, learning & development, community
The KPI’s take a holistic approach to the farm system to improve outcomes rather than focusing on
set practices. These are scored between 1-10, helping to give the growers a benchmark for where they
currently sit in each of the areas. The scoring system was created around a mindset of continuous
improvement and is underpinned by a change management framework.
The ZQRX team have an open discussion with growers about their whole farm system to generate a unique index for the property. The conversations around the scoring are every bit as important as the scores. They help to acknowledge the Grower's hard work, identify next steps, and share ideas and methodology around best practise to drive regenerative outcomes.
At it’s heart, ZQRX is a way to celebrate and support Growers. Although an important part of our farming systems, audits fail to recognise all the ways our Growers go above and beyond. ZQRX does this, as well as providing a clear pathway and resources to take this even further. As science and technology evolves, we can our support our growers to do better in the areas that are important to them, the markets they supply, and the regulatory environments around them.
Collectively we can strive for a better future, and give more than we take.