Workshop delivers positive strides towards NFU net zero ambitions

wild flower mix with cereal fields in the background

Held over two sessions and delivered by experts from ADAS, the workshop explored how members can be supported to take action towards net zero on farm, and what this support could look like as part of any future ELM scheme.

The first session explored the links between greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and agricultural processes, providing members with an in-depth understanding of net zero action. The second session focussed on the measures farmers can, and do, implement to reduce emissions on their farms. Part of the Test and Trial involves testing two different types of land management plan (LMP) – an action-based plan and a map-based plan. The North East workshop used the map-based plan.

Members were supported to produce bespoke farm maps identifying emission sources and sinks, and to think about what actions they could take to improve their GHG footprint. The resulting maps also captured the measures already being taken by members to reduce emissions, providing a full picture of the GHG balance for their business. The second session also provided members with guidance on how to complete a GHG calculation.

With these sessions being just the beginning of the net zero journey, members are looking forward to completing the GHG calculations for their farms. With a greater understanding of farm GHG processes and how they can reduce their emissions and increase their carbon stores, members are excited to apply this knowledge in helping British agriculture getting to net zero.

Assistant North East environment advisor, Kate Adams caught up with members after the workshop to find out what they thought.

Phillip Rowbottom, an arable farmer based in Wakefield, said: “The sessions were full of interesting and useful content and drilled home how important it is to think about how to reduce our emissions. I recently bought a direct drill to reduce emissions on my farm and I hope this inspires other farmers in the region. There are still a lot of questions such as how will ELMS work in practice, but the sessions have got me thinking about my road to GHG reduction.”

Mixed farmer John Renner based on the border of Northumberland National Park added: “Greater awareness of the land we manage can only help make our businesses more profitable. The understanding of the carbon cycle and how closely this interacts with food production is key to a better managed environment, developing better soil management ideas and creating a more sustainable business.

"The Test and Trial workshop helped develop ideas around carbon storage and gave an insight to what is possible, the thought of using an online GHG calculator can be challenging but keeping it simple ensures the right result. All businesses are changing to address the environment; this will help put agriculture at the front.”

Robin Asquith, a mixed organic upland farmer based in North Yorkshire added: “It was fantastic to be involved in the work the NFU is undertaking on net zero. The sessions gave a great insight into the tools available to measure GHGs and how this can be used to make positive business decisions. I look forward to using the tools more to help steer our business in the future.”

William Maughan, county vice chairman and mixed farmer based in Durham said:“I was pleased to be involved with the Test and Trial because it provided a good opportunity for me to learn about GHG calculations and how they’re affected by the features/activities on our farms.

"We learned how we can build on what we’re doing to help balance our footprint by reducing how many GHGs we produce alongside carbon storage and capture. A key part of the trial was for us to individually record the features and activities on our own farms that effect our calculations, which then allowed us to focus and record actions we could take to move towards net zero. The subject can be a complicated one to understand but this experience helped prove to me it needn’t be as hard to understand as you think and there are a lot of simple and straightforward things we can do to help make a big difference.

You can read more about the Test and Trial in the previous article, 'NFU members set to start net zero ELMs Test and Trial'.

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