South West NFU members have provided their input on ELMs and net zero through a regional Test and Trial workshop.
Participants at the South West workshop provided some general feedback on the workshop itself, as follows:
- The cross sectoral aspect of the workshop proved useful in gaining knowledge about the industry as a whole with farmers finding lots of overlap and connection between sectors. It was especially useful for those with mixed farms or those thinking of incorporating other sectors into their rotation.
- Lack of time is a barrier to completing a GHG calculation and there is a challenge in collecting data for a GHG calculation as the records kept and used to make decisions for a farm business don’t always match up with what is needed for a calculation.
- The workshop could have benefited from examples or experiences of what other farmers are doing.
More about the workshops
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 (LMPs) and GHG calculators. It aims to identify types of actions that ELMs might support.
What did workshop participants say?
Lizzie Dyer, a goat farmer said:
"I found it a challenge that the workshop just focused on net zero as there are many other things farmers have to consider when making decisions about their business. There must be an acknowledgement of the wider influences on farm decisions. We are gatekeepers to so much of the British countryside that a net zero ambition must not contradict the desire and necessity to enhance and protect other aspects of our environment and biodiversity. The workshop would also have felt more relevant and applicable to on farm activity if there had been examples of other farmers’ work.’
Members had many suggestions for developing a possible action-based Land Management Plan. These included:
- Guidance to help farmers prioritise by highlighting the most important actions to start with or having a scale to show the impact of different actions. It was felt that having too many options to consider could potentially be overwhelming for those just starting out on the journey.
- Offering the potential to revisit and reassess the Land Management Plan at a later date. These are big decisions and will need careful consideration.
- A smaller group would have been more beneficial to be able to go through in more detail and ask more specific questions.
Dairy farmer Bridget Whell said:
"Farmers have little time and are innately practical. We need practical examples of how to do things and ways to learn from the experiences of others. It would be useful to incorporate links to further practical guidance into any support provided."