Q&A: Advice for navigating your farm’s road to net zero


With vital shopper stress on retailers to reveal the environmental credentials of the foods and drinks on their cabinets, supermarkets are requiring extra from their farmers – together with decreasing emissions.

So farmers ought to begin assessing carbon footprint of their enterprise sooner relatively than later.

But questions abound. Where do you start, and that are the most effective instruments to use? What alternatives are there for monetary acquire, and who might be finest positioned to reap the benefits of them? 

A panel of trade consultants at Farmers Weekly’s current Road to net zero webinar addressed these and different questions from the viewers.

Here are a number of the questions and solutions:

Should farmers be prioritising offsetting carbon for different industries or offsetting for agriculture?

Agriculture ought to look to present offsets for itself earlier than exploring alternatives in different sectors which can be additionally trying to offset, in accordance to AHDB’s head of surroundings, Jonathan Foot.

“At the moment, the market lacks maturity in the UK and there are only a few schemes that enable assured measurements of offsets – the Peatlands Code and the Woodland Code – and the prices being offered are far too low,” he mentioned.

“Sit and wait and see how the market develops, and maybe use them for yourself because they may have far more value to you in terms of how you can talk to the supply chain above you,” he suggested.

When could be time to make commitments within the carbon market – ought to we wait till the UK Farm Soil Carbon Code has been signed off by authorities?

Markets are rising, and if it’s potential for you to enter them however not essentially commerce in them, then it’s price contemplating now, mentioned Oxbury Bank chief buyer officer Tim Coates, whose Cotswolds farm has been via a woodland venture.

“I’m now the proud possessor of Pending Issuance Units against the Woodland Carbon Code,” he mentioned. “I’ve not bought them – I don’t intend to achieve this – however I don’t essentially intend by no means to achieve this.

“This is this is going to become a data game as much as anything else and that’s going to lead not just into carbon but any other form of ecosystem service – biodiversity net gain, water quality, food provenance – so data is actually the big project for me this year, and then how I will enter these markets.”

Who owns the carbon in farmed tenanted land – the owner or the tenant? 

“It will depend on what your tenancy says – and if it doesn’t say anything about it then it will depend on the negotiation between landlord and tenant,” mentioned Hutchinson providers chief Matt Ward.

Most present tenancies will predate the entire carbon idea, so assess the choices on your farm, then have that dialog with your landlord, suggested AHDB’s Mr Foot.

“Understand who could potentially take those benefits or even maybe get to a point where there’s the ability to co-share those benefits in a fair and equitable way.”

Is there a industrial profit to be had from anaerobic digestion from animal waste as a lot as an environmental one?

If you’ve gotten livestock, it’s going to be very troublesome to obtain net zero with out including as a lot worth as you may to your waste.

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If you’re producing slurry, it’s a little bit of a no brainer to run it via an AD system, get methane from it after which apply the digestate again to your land to offset fertiliser necessities,” mentioned Harper Adams soil ecologist Simon Jeffery.

Which grasses, herbs or legumes produce much less methane in ruminants? Or is there a extra pure manner to do the job, akin to seaweed?

Look on the chemistry of forages, suggested KW Alternative Feed’s Michael Marsden. “It’s about the digestibility of the fibre fraction,” he mentioned.

“So in case you are making very leafy forage that’s extremely digestible you’re not going to get the form of fermentation that leads to methane manufacturing.

“The more fibrous, the more hydrogen you produce in the system, and the ruminants just convert it to methane. So less fibre, lower methane – irrespective of the forage type.”

Which sector – or a part of the nation – stands to acquire essentially the most from carbon credit or biodiversity net acquire?

The place to begin goes to be an attention-grabbing a part of the talk because the market matures, mentioned Lincolnshire farmer and Terravesta chairman William Cracroft-Eley.

“Arguably the one with the gain will be the one that starts from the lowest base level and, therefore, has the highest opportunities – which may well be the intensive cereal farmer.” 

Morrisons’ head of agriculture, fisheries and sustainable sourcing, Sophie Throup, added that everybody has the potential to be a winner on some degree:  “Without doubt, every single farm has the opportunity to lower emissions and then think about increasing sequestration and creating that net-carbon balance.”

It’s not nearly fee for acquire, identified Mr Coates: “I feel there might be funds, each private and non-private, that might be made for upkeep.

“There are existing schemes – the Farming in Protected Landscapes is in that sort of space.” 

Transition Summit sequence – register and watch now

Our 5 Transition Summit webinars study how farmers can adapt to among the greatest modifications that the sector has seen for greater than 50 years, together with the lack of the Basic Payment Scheme.

You can watch on demand now, and register for future periods.

  1. Starting your journey – watch now
  2. The road to net zero – watch now
  3. The pathway to productiveness, Thursday 27 January 2022 – register
  4. Successful soil, Thursday 17 March 2022 – register
  5. Benefiting from biodiversity, Thursday 5 May 2022 – register


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