Make your pledge for net zero for your chance to win a solar light

Published 17 January 2022

Farm business Net zero

Many NFU members are already taking positive steps to help the agriculture sector achieve net zero by 2040.

Have you pledged yet?

Make a pledge for net zero on our pledge map and you’ll be entered into our monthly prize draw for the chance to win a solar light.

More than 325 farmers have pledged so far, letting us know the actions they are taking across our three net zero pillars. So whether you are currently taking action for net zero or have plans to do so in the next 12 months, let us know.

Read the prize draw terms and conditions.


Make a pledge on our pledge map and you could win a solar light

Film a quick video or take a picture of what you are doing and share on your social media with #Pledge2040.

The more members who come together to make a pledge for net zero, the bigger the change we can make together. Each and every action counts.

Not sure where to start with net zero? Check out our new net zero resource page for some guidance.


Pledging for net zero - December update

December’s winners were:

  • East Anglia – Mr B Paterson
  • East Midlands – Mr R Chapman
  • North East – Mr A Loftus
  • North West – Mr R Ford & Mrs B Starkey
  • South East – Mr A Rigg
  • South West – Mr J Martin
  • Wales – Mrs K Whitrow
  • West Midlands – Mr J Dunn 

Read what our winners had to say

We spoke to our final winners of 2021 about the changes they have made and how they set about approaching their net zero contributions on farm.

East Anglia – Mr B Paterson

With just over 2000 acres spanning four miles we are integrating an ambitious holistic farm-wide landscaping project that provides a mosaic for wildlife habitats and corridors, whilst still producing quality food, renewable energy and carbon sequestration for decades to come.

This will include a 20ha (2.5%) planting of 30,000 trees, substituting long term Countryside Stewardship options for native woodland, alongside the 70ha (8%) already on the farm. Increasing permanent pastures from 120ha (15%) to 165ha (20%) with arable reversion and historic parkland renewal. The farm includes 15ha (2%) of solar on marginal grassland along with a further 42Ha (5%) of Mid Tier options chosen for their low disturbance and maintenance. All non-roadside hedgerows are included in Hedgerow Management which equates to a further 4.2ha (0.5%).

This land commitment totals around 38% across the entire farm, but not including the growing of cover crops and integration of livestock into the arable rotation. All arable production on the farm is spring cropping, allowing for cover crops over winter. Mob grazing of all pastures provides premium animal products, and the installation of a covered liquid digestate lagoon, together with livestock manure, will remove our reliance on synthetic fertiliser inputs.

East Midlands Mr R Chapman

We’re arable and contract farmers, and we started our net zero journey over 10 years ago by putting in two biomass boilers. We also have 30kW of solar panels on our farm. We currently don’t have any plans for the future, but for other farmers looking to work towards net zero on their farm I would recommend looking into the options in-depth and finding something that is profitable for your farm as well as the environment.

North East – Mr A Loftus

On our farm we’ve installed a biomass system and are actively exploring solar because it makes sense with all the power price increases. We’ve also moved away from using plastic wrapping by making much more hay rather than silage, although I know this isn’t something that would suit every farmer. I’m really interested in my GHG footprint and have trialled a number of different calculators. These are producing quite different results, mainly because some of them take into account a wider range of inputs, and some take into account different sequestration measures, so I’m trying to understand that.

My advice for other farmers would be: give it a go. The whole economy has got to work towards net zero and farming isn’t being singled out, you’re not on your own. It’s going to take massive investment from every industry, and if all of this does lead to higher food prices or new markets for other produce from agriculture, would that be such a bad thing?

North West – Mr R Ford and Mrs B Starkey

For us, working for net zero on our dairy farm has been about engaging in good farming practice. We’ve been trying to use our own resources rather than buying in things like nitrogen to reduce emissions, and we’ve improved the feed for our cattle to reduce their methane emissions. We make sure to maintain our machinery well so that it lasts much longer and maintains its efficiency, which not only saves us money but also cuts down the emissions from creating new machines. We also grow maize which we under sow with grass to make sure there’s never any bare stubble, and all our hedges are around two metres high and wide. For the future we’re looking at installing solar panels, especially as the price of electricity increases, and we’ve got plans to plant more hedges. The first thing to look at to do your bit for net zero is where you can improve your efficiency and cut your costs so that in the future you can afford to do more.

South East – Mr A Rigg

I pledged for net zero as I started the journey over ten years ago by installing solar PV on my farm. It has been generating a return on investment of over 15% since then, as well as providing electricity for the farm; we have more than halved our electricity consumption. For the last six years most of our car journeys have also been free as a result of generating our own 'fuel' for an electric car. As well as improving the profitability of the farm, it has happily and in a very small way contributed to mitigating climate change. With rapidly rising energy prices, generating your own energy remains very profitable. There are, perhaps, more difficult tasks ahead to reduce the farm's fertiliser footprint, but PV is a simple and easy 'no brainer'. 

South West – Mr J Martin

We’ve increased our soil organic matter over the past 18 years by around 1.1-1.2%. To do that we’ve been incorporating chopped straw, and we’ve moved to three quarters spring cropping and cover cropping. We have business units on the farm that are connected to solar panels, and we have plans to put another 100kW of panels in. Of course these measures all cost money to start off with, but after a few years there’s a payback and at the end of the day it’s financially beneficial.

My advice for members who are interested in getting started on net zero is to give yourself some education. Try to understand the carbon cycle and especially how the soil works and how important it is. Accept that some of the things you’re doing might not always be right, but that once you start the right things will become obvious to you.

Wales – Mrs K Whitrow

We’re an upland beef and sheep unit in the Brecon Beacons, so we have 60 acres of woodland and around 60 acres of the farm is an SSSI. Our aspirations around net zero are to improve and feed as much from forage as we can, to minimise inputs and fertiliser use. When we do buy in feed to supplement for the cattle, we buy locally sourced wholegrain barley that we roll ourselves. We have a wood boiler on the farm that uses waste wood collected from activities such as building fences.

Currently we have plans to plant a further 300m of hedgerow this year, in addition to the 500m that we planted last year. An application is also in for us to put six hectares of unproductive land into a native woodland, and install solar panels on one of our sheds. A focus for us at the moment is looking at the genetics of our stock. We have already moved from Cheviot sheep to Hardy Speckled sheep which are smaller but live for six to seven years and don’t need as much feed. We are doing the same with our cattle now, moving from Limousins to Stabilisers, which have a better feed conversion rate which overall means less energy is used making and transporting feed.

If I could give any advice to members getting started on their net zero journey it would be: recognise the value in what you’ve already got, keep a positive frame of mind, and make incremental changes that make a big difference when you add them all together!

 


The prize

You could win an SM 100 solar light from Solar Aid.

Perfect as a handheld torch, a freestanding light or you can attach a strap (not included) and wear it as a head torch. Prizes are kindly donated by NFU Energy. Every light purchased helps to get another solar light to rural Africa, getting safe, clean light to families currently living without electricity.

SolarAid

SolarAid is a UK charity whose work has been recognised as impacting on 12 of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. They believe that universal access to renewable energy is the best way to alleviate poverty and end darkness and the best way to ensure this is by building local, sustainable businesses. Their Social Enterprise SunnyMoney is one of the main sellers of solar lights in Africa. SunnyMoney agents travel to remote rural communities to make clean light available where there were previously only unhealthy and expensive alternatives, like kerosene lamps and candles. They help instil trust and create demand in a new and unfamiliar technology – which helps build the foundations for a sustainable solar market and a lasting energy legacy.


One solar light:

  • Averts 1.1 tonnes of CO2 emissions in the atmosphere.
  • Saves families £159 who will no longer has to spend money on dangerous candles or toxic kerosene.
  • Allows 1,006 hours of extra study time for a child, who will study by safe light after the sun has set.

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