The UK has committed to becoming net zero by 2050. Many have been talking about sustainable solutions to the way we live but now it’s law. 

Global temperatures continue to rise, with the very visible impacts of flood, disease and drought. Farmers are at the forefront of this impact, but they can be a major part of the solution. 

As part of Defra’s Farming Policy 2020, they have announced funding which will be available for environmental land management focusing on reducing water and air pollution, improving soils and improving productivity.

In 2017 agriculture produced 9% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  Key sources are:

  • Livestock: approximately 60% of agricultural GHG comes from methane which is an output of livestock.
    • Solutions: change in animal husbandry including their diets and increase in productivity
  • Soils: the application of fertilizers producing Nitrous Oxide is a key issue. It represents approximately 30% of GHG emissions. Soils are however a valuable carbon sink.
    • Solutions: move to low carbon cropping systems including cover crops, increase productivity, change cropping practices, less input of fertilizers and manage animal waste storage systems. 
  • Transportation: transportation contributes to 10% of GHG emissions from farming producing carbon dioxide. 
    • Solution: move away from diesel to electric machinery and equipment, renewable energies on farm and use innovative technology. 

Trees are an important net sink alongside grassland.  As part of the aim to become net zero the government has identified that a further 50,000has of trees need to be grown each year.  The majority will be grown in Scotland and Wales but there is opportunity to grow innovatively in field corners,  shelterbelts,  agro forest and new or improving hedgerows. 

Grants will be available to support farm businesses achieve these aims in the form of Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) and new Countryside Productivity grants.   We’ve been told to look out for this announcement in September 2020 for Small Countryside Productivity Grants on the Defra website.

To help you count your carbon there are a number of online tools that help you capture your carbon footprint:

Farm Business Survey: This tool allows farmers to estimate carbon dioxide production as well as other environmental and social attributes of the farm business.

The Cool Farm Tool: will support you in accounting for your product footprint. It is used by the supply chains:

The Carbon Cutting Toolkit: this aims to encourage and support farmers and growers to reduce their farm GHG emissions, increase their farm energy resilience and in doing so also improve their farm business in the future. It captures your whole farm footprint and will aid as a decision-making tool.

The aim of these tools is to identify long term trends in capturing data that will be beneficial to your business and the environment we live  and work in. It will provide you with information as to the sustainability of your farm in the future and support you in setting targets and addressing cost and input issues. 

It is time to develop your Net Zero Strategy and have a go !

Emma Powlett


To find out how ARC Members can help you click here