Final member conference for ELMs net zero Test and Trial

02 November 2021

The final activity in the NFU’s net zero Environmental Land Management scheme (ELMs) Test and Trial (T&T) saw NFU members who had participated in the project attend the conference.

Led by farmers

NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw who chaired the event welcomed everyone by saying:

“This is a farmer-led ELMs Test and Trial, and it is crucial for getting farmers’ voices heard in the development of ELMs.

“The trial has given us really good signals of what could work in the complex area of net zero without compromising the other public goods that farmers also want to deliver. It has shown where farmers might need advice if they want to access it, and the sorts of net zero activities they want to invest in."

Tom Bradshaw webcrop _79880

“Foremost in our minds through this is that ELMs should be simple, flexible and accessible, that it allows farmers and growers to choose what best fits their circumstance and matches our ambition to become a global leader in climate-friendly food and farming.”

Reflecting on recent policy announcements and the United Nations Climate Change summit in Glasgow, Tom said:

“This Test and Trial has more relevance now than it ever had because of the government’s net zero strategy announcement.”

As members of the T&T steering group, NFU Environment Forum chair Richard Bramley and West Midlands Crops Board chair Andrew Williamson were responsible for guiding the development and direction of the project.

Mr Bramley said: “When we’re involved in design from the very beginning, we stand a far better chance of having something that is not only going to work on farm, but also something that is going to deliver results."

Discussing results

At the conference project contractors ADAS gave a presentation on the results of the T&T. This was followed by a Q&A and gave participating NFU members the opportunity to share their reflections on the T&T.

Members asked many searching questions about integrating net zero into ELMs, including how it might work for tenant farmers and the value of net zero measures in ELMs. There were also questions on GHG calculators and markets, for example, could existing free-to-use calculators be used for future carbon trading or would there be a need to look at other platforms to do this?

Emerging findings

The T&T emerging findings show that no 'one size fits all’ will work for all sectors or farm types. We found:

  • Green House Gas calculators are useful tools to raise awareness of net zero and to support on farm decision making.
  • A land management plan needs to be flexible and widely relevant incorporating aspects of both map- and action-based approaches.
  • Advisory support in the early stages is needed for farmers to understand and implement the delivery of actions required to meet the complex subject of net zero
  • To achieve the greatest level of engagement and effectiveness with all farmers, it is essential that a range of advice delivery methods (workshop, one-to-one, recording etc.) are made available with suitably qualified advisors, highly knowledgeable in both climate change and the relevant farming sector.
  • Net zero support and actions must be tailored to farming sectors and also to individuals at different levels of understanding so that no farmer is 'left behind'.

Next steps

The final report of the project will be submitted to Defra by the end of October.

What is the ELMs net zero T&T?

  • 150 NFU members participated in workshops, 1-to-1 or unsupported sessions to test different forms of advice
  • Each also undertook either an ‘action based’ land management plan (LMP) or a ‘map based’ LMP
  • Over 400 other NFU members took part in a survey

Read more about the ELMs T&T:

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