NFU responds to Call for Evidence on using non-road mobile machinery on farm

Environment and climate
A photo of a sprayer.

The UK Government has carried out a call for evidence on the use of non-road mobile machinery on farm.

Examples of NRMMs that are used in agriculture include tractors, telehandlers and loaders, harvesters, generators, chainsaws and self-propelled crop sprayers. As an industry, agriculture produces 45% of the total carbon emissions of all industries that use such non-road machinery. 

Despite this, much of the call for evidence is focused on industrial uses of NRMM, such as construction, mining or shipping. Therefore, this is likely to be the only opportunity for viewpoints of the agricultural industry to be considered. As such, the NFU is determined to ensure the views of the industry are clearly represented.

At present, there is no timeline for the decarbonisation of agriculture and other industries that use and rely on NRMM.

The NFU has now published its response, which you can read further down the page. 

26 March 2024

Consultation closed

This consultation has now closed.

26 March 2024

NFU submits response

The NFU has consulted with our own members as well as other stakeholders in the agricultural industry concerning the decarbonisation of non-road mobile machinery, and we have summarised their input in our replies to questions.

Our response to this Call for Evidence is also supported by the National Farmers’ Union of Scotland, the Ulster Farmers’ Union, and the Agricultural Engineers Association.

The NFU notes that this Call for Evidence does not ask specifically about a possible phase-out date for diesel-powered machinery, but rather that it is still considering the various low-carbon technological options.

We note also that the accompanying technical report by ERM Consultants focuses predominantly on industrial NRMM (non-road mobile machinery), despite agriculture accounting for nearly half (45%) of all NRMM fuel use.

It is regrettable that agricultural decarbonisation options were not also reviewed.

Independently, the NFU is also participating in a DESNZ task-and-finish group on hydrogen internal combustion engines for NRMM.

The NFU would like to see strong government support for low-carbon sustainable biofuel alternatives and accelerated introduction of electric farm machinery.

Incentives, tax allowances and demonstration projects would all help to develop the agricultural market, especially for biomethane and electric machinery which is only just emerging from the prototype stage.

Reduced-duty ‘red’ diesel is the main fuel used in the majority of agricultural machinery, essential for many farm businesses and maintaining food production.

The NFU notes that this was recognised in recent government policy, when agriculture was exempted from removal of the entitlement to use red diesel and rebated biodiesel in most sectors from April 2022.

It is critically important that this agricultural entitlement remains in place until a suitable range of low-carbon alternatives are commercially available, and until farmers have had sufficient time to invest in new machinery.

An increase in the cost of agricultural diesel would make NFU members uncompetitive with producers in many other countries that provide their agricultural sectors with a reduced fuel duty rate, subsidies, or tax allowances on diesel, at a time when they are facing increased pressure on costs as a result of significant inflation across a range of agricultural inputs.

You can download the NFU’s response in full at: NFU response to Call for Evidence on how non-road mobile machinery might decarbonise.

28 February 2024

NFU publishes draft consultation response

The NFU is currently preparing its response to the Call for Evidence and has published a draft copy of its submission to government.

Key topics that the NFU will be providing a response on include:

  • Lifecycles of current agricultural machinery
  • Buying/leasing patterns in agriculture
  • Factors influencing the purchase of machinery
  • Experiences of using alternative fuel sources
  • Barriers to decarbonising agricultural machinery

The response will also highlight the need to make distinctions between “green fuels”, which are almost fully decarbonised in their production and emissions, and “blue fuels”, which do not produce any pollutant emissions, but involve fossil fuels as part of their production.

The NFU will also focus attention on financial support and incentives for uptake of alternative fuels, the infrastructure challenges that farming and rural communities are likely to face with decarbonising, and the research and development required to ensure that alternative fuel powered NRMM is comparable in both performance and lifecycle to current machinery.

NFU members can log in and download a draft copy of the NFU's response at: NFU draft response to Call for Evidence on Non-road mobile machinery: decarbonisation options

21 December 2023

Call for Evidence opens

The DESNZ (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero), DfT (Department for Transport) and Defra have opened a joint Call for Evidence which seeks to see how NRMM (non-road mobile machinery) might decarbonise as part of the government's wider net zero ambitions.

The call for evidence will look at all alternative fuel options available including:

  • Synthetic combustion fuels eg. alkylated petrol
  • Fuels produced from crops eg. HVO (Hydrotreated vegetable oil) fuel, biomethane, bio-LPG
  • Hydrogen as a combustion fuel
  • Battery electric
  • Fuel cells

It will also look at a range of agricultural machinery, including: 

  • Agricultural tractors, including vintage tractors
  • Agricultural telehandlers and loaders
  • Chainsaws
  • Self-propelled crop sprayers
  • Harvesters
  • Compressors and pumps
  • Generators
  • Pressure washers
  • Self-propelled windrowers
  • Material handling equipment

More information on the call for evidence can be found at: GOV.UK | Non-road mobile machinery: decarbonisation options.

You can also respond directly until 26 March 2024 at: GOV.UK | Non road mobile machinery decarbonisation options: call for evidence

This page was first published on 29 February 2024. It was updated on 26 March 2024.

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  • 26 March 2024: Consultation closes. 
  • 28 February 2024: The NFU publishes its draft consultation response, calling for members to provide feedback.
  • 21 December 2023: DESNZ, DfT and Defra open Call for Evidence on the decarbonisation of NRMMs.