Feedback from this workshop in the North West continues to support the idea that members want the opportunity to engage at different levels – some participants requested something more advanced, while others wanted more advice and support to get going, particularly to feel more confident in completing a GHG calculation.
This Test and Trial is also looking at different forms of advice to try and ensure that farmers can access the level of support they need in any future ELMs scheme. In addition to these workshops, ADAS is also running 35 1:1 sessions (five per region) with the chance for members to get more specific advice and guidance from a consultant. They take a similar format to the workshops with a general introduction to net zero, followed by going through a Land Management Plan and a GHG calculation.
More about how the workshops work
The NFU's ELMs Net Zero Test and Trial workshops, run by ADAS, are split into two sessions.
The first session is designed to help farmers understand what the climate issue is and the opportunities the agriculture sector has to tackle its contribution to climate change.
The second session is more practical and looks at identifying the actions members can implement on their farms using Land Management Plans and GHG calculators. It aims to identify types of actions that ELMs might support.
What was members' feedback?
Bill Webb, an arable farmer, said:
"One idea could be to have the more introductory presentation on net zero as something to read beforehand. Farmers could then go through this at their own pace, and those more informed could skim certain sections. You could then bring everyone together for an interactive session to discuss ideas and ask questions, as the discussion was really useful."
The time involved is also something that keeps cropping up with farmers wanting to take the time to complete a calculation properly to ensure their results are as precise as possible.
Vaughan Hodgson said:
"I want to be able to use this as a guide for my poultry business but if the figures are wrong, I may be led in the wrong direction. I need to trust that I have completed it correctly before I can use the data to make informed business-based decisions."
Suggestions to support the usage of greenhouse gas calculators:
- A way to ask questions, perhaps by phone, if members get stuck when going through a calculation.
- Some standard data or averages provided that could save farmers’ time as a lot of information can be required.
Sarah Bolton, a livestock farmer in the Ribble Valley, tested the map-based Land Management Plan in her 1:1 session. She found it an interesting and worthwhile exercise that helped her to focus more on her farm records and consider future action on farm.
Using paper maps was a bit frustrating as there’s no way to easily add different layers of information without having many copies of the map. But it was thought an online version of the Land Management Plan using mapping software, where data from other platforms could be easily added in, would make the process much easier and quicker and something that could be easily updated over time.
"We need this process to be kept as simple and easy as possible to ensure this is something we can do ourselves and continue to have ownership over if we are to use it to make decisions about our business. We don’t want to end up having to employ someone else."