Leading Harvest

Leading Harvest is a farmland sustainability program that aims to promote sustainability in environmental, social, and management aspects of primary production. The Leading Harvest Farmland Management Standard was developed in 2020 to allow “outcome-based, third-party assured” certification across a diversity of farming situations.

Principles of the Leading Harvest Standard:

  1. Sustainable Agriculture
  2. Soil Health and Conservation
  3. Protection of Water Resources
  4. Protection of Crops
  5. Energy Use, Air Quality and Climate Change
  6. Waste and Material Management
  7. Conservation of Biodiversity
  8. Protection of Special Sites (sites of indigenous and cultural significance)
  9. Local Communities
  10. Employees and Farm Labour
  11. Legal and Regulatory Compliance
  12. Management Review and Continual Improvement
  13. Tenant-Operated Operations

Each principle represents a Standard Objective, comprised of a number of Performance Measures, and in turn Indicators of sustainability management. The hierarchy of Objective-Performance Measure-Indicator is used throughout the Standard.

Before beginning an application, please make sure you have read, and understand, the Harvest Farmland Management Standard. Or, click here for the Australian version of the Standard.

Guidebooks are available for the primary Leading Harvest Standard and for the Australian Standard.

Important Notes

  • Certification is available for cropping enterprises only at this time, though a livestock Standard is under development.
  • Your initial application must include the following:
    • A completed Leading Harvest Application Form.
    • A signed and witnessed Certification Agreement.
    • A detailed summary of how your enterprise (as a Program User) meets the 13 Leading Harvest Objectives described above and in the Leading Harvest Standard. This must be supported by suitable conformance evidence (refer to the Guidebooks linked above).
    • Physical locations of all farms comprising your operation, farms sizes, crop diversity, and number of staff.
    • Payment of the application fee (as per the Application Form).
  • Application will be followed by a detailed document review of proposed evidence and on-site inspections.
  • For multi-site operations, the minimum number of farms inspected at your initial audit will be the square root of the total number of farms, chosen by a combination of random selection and risk (e.g. size and complexity, number of staff, proximity to ecologically or culturally significant sites, etc.).
  • Certification period is three years, with re-certification audits carried out triennially.
  • Between the triennial certification audits will be two surveillance audits, which will focus on implementation of required improvements identified at previous audits, and changes to infrastructure, personnel, environmental risks, and procedures.
  • A summary of changes must be submitted each year leading up to the surveillance or re-certification audits.
  • Once certified, a summary audit report will be written up by ACO, and approved by the operator. This report must be suitable for publishing online, with sensitive or personal information redacted as appropriate. Once published, the Program User may use the Leading Harvest logo to promote their business. Important: The logo is not intended or permitted for product labelling. Leading Harvest is a management system certification, not a product certification scheme. For more information, please refer to ACO's Rules for Use of the Leading Harvest Off-Product Mark.
  • Further information on Leading Harvest application and certification may be found on ACO's Leading Harvest Program Information Document, or by contacting ACO.