Green Planet

The UK Government has set a Net Zero target for 2050. Land use and management has a key role to play in this, with the NFU setting an even earlier target of 2040.

The agriculture and land management sectors are in a unique position in the UK's Net Zero strategy. This is due to the potential for these sectors to not only reach Net Zero carbon emissions, but to become carbon negative. This is due to the carbon sequestration potential of the land that we farm and manage. 

Both changes in land use and management will be important in achieving this. A royal society paper on 'multifunctional landscapes' demonstrates the complexity of this challenge, when we are considering all the value that our land can provide in terms of, food production, biodiversity, carbon, water quality and other ecosystem services like flood prevention. Access the paper HERE.

The challenges that farmers and land managers face in relation to Net Zero are therefore complex. The frameworks and knowledge that support agriculture will undoubtably have a significant role to play. At FarmPEP, we would like to know what the key challenges are, and what tools and information might be useful in addressing them.

Please leave comments under this topic page to share your thoughts and questions you would like answered as we move towards Net Zero.

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Topic Comments

Discussion

Interesting article from Rothamsted here.

It warns against overestimating the potential of soils as a carbon store and highlights the challenges this presents when we consider land use and management. 

It is important that we understand the relationship between soil and carbon better as policy is designed for mitigating climate change.

 

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While this is a vital subject I fear as an industry we need to be cautious. Very few if any carbon capture schemes in agriculture are sustainable. They buy time but ultimately the last cow is replaced by the last tree. Carbon only increases to a point and then stops whether contained in trees or soils. If other emissions increase (perhaps nitrous oxide when direct drilling?) in the long term capture strategies might increase greenhouse gas emissions.

Sequestration must not allowed to displace the reduction in emissions from improving production efficiency and replacing use of fossil fuel with renewable such as green electricity. Quad bikes and other machinery is already available in electrical forms and can be easily powered cost effectively from roof top PV (check on an envelope!).  Electric farm vehicles can also now be used for power storage to operate lights and milk tanks over night. Soya meal and even fertiliser does not have to have a high carbon footprint since emissions depend on source and manufacture. Feed additives to reduce methane look likely to be promoted by Defra next year. Legumes in forage mixtures can replace a lot of fertiliser. Disposal of organic wastes in anaerobic digesters may effectively replace fossil fuels.

What other actions are worthwhile?

 

 

 

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You raise important points, Simon. The aim is to move beyond land use change alone and to also consider improvements in management paractices.  We need the correct balance between land use change with land management and improved practices. I hope that is what this topic area will be able to help progress. It would be really helpful to know the practical challenges land managers face in adapting their businesses, or land they manage, to get the correct balance. There will be balances we need to make. What is important is that we can identify what they are and get well evidence and clear rationales for the choices that need to be made.

Please use this space to highlight specific concerns that as land managers you and other contributors feel need to be the priority to address. Where we know of relevant information we will try to highlight it.

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Connected Content

In 2015, the UK pledged to be Net Zero by 2050, with the NFU striving for the more ambitious target of 2040. Net Zero is achieved when the amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted is balanced with those removed from the atmosphere. This helps to combat climate change and reduce global warming.

A transdisciplinary hub looking to provide to bridge the gap between science and policy to achieve Net Zero

This project aims to bring some clarity on the extent to which commonly used tools diverge in their estimates of carbon footprint for a range of well-defined reference systems.

Help us collate the knowledge sources, organisations and initiatives out there that are seeking to improve the farmed environment

Farming is intricately connected to the environment in various ways. The relationship between agriculture and the environment is a critical aspect of modern farming practices. Please share information, resources, tools and experiences on the multifaceted dimensions of how farming intersects with the environment.

The key GHGs for agriculture that contribute directly to climate change are:  Carbon dioxide (CO2)  Methane (CH4)  Nitrous oxide (N2O)   All these GHGs are often grouped under the umbrella term ‘carbon’. 

Land use refers to the way that land is used and managed for various purposes, such as agriculture, housing, industry, and recreation.

The Big Tent is the annual meeting of the Network and an opportunity for participants to hear from, and engage with, researchers, business leaders, policy-makers and voluntary organisations working for change in the agri-food system to meet the UK’s net zero 2050 goal. 

Carbon Calling CIC is a farmer-led movement founded in 2019 by Liz Genever and Nic Renison.   It is aimed at farmers who are just on the turn - they know what they are doing isn't quite working but not sure what to do next.   We are want to empower all livestock farmers in the UK to develop their systems to ensure they are profitable, environmentally aware and improving well-being.

Tree-planting is a key part of the UK government’s plan to reach net zero by 2050, with a commitment to plant 30,000 hectares of new woodland every year. But where will all these trees go, and how can we ensure food production is maintained?

Healthy, well-managed soils support productive and healthy crops and pasture and allows for a profitable and resilient farming system.

The discussions at COP28 highlight the critical role of agricultural innovations in achieving food security and climate goals sustainably.

How rising competition for land threatens international and environmental stability, and how the risks can be mitigated.

The business event showcasing low carbon practices, technology and energy solutions for a profitable & sustainable farming future

Fertility is the key driver of profit in the dairy herd and is dependent on genetics, nutrition and health status.

As global warming increases, young people currently in their teens, 20s, 30s, and early 40s will be the ones to bear the brunt of climatic changes, plus the responsibility of transitioning the agri-food system towards net zero by 2050.

This webinar introduces the work of YEN Zero with the ADAS Climate Change and Sustainability team and Will Oliver, an arable farmer from Lincolnshire and YEN Zero member.

There are lots of reasons for farmers to be interested in carbon markets, especially given the changing agricultural policy and push towards net zero as well as other potential benefits.

This RASE Infographic describes strategies involving farm vehicles and machinery that can help contribute towards a net zero strategy.

This paper aims to summarize the evidence base concerning carbon storage in pasture land used for livestock production.

This RASE Infographic describes how you can effectively manage soils to decarbonise and improve biodiversity on your farm. 

Our climate is changing and on-farm action is urgently needed. As a farmer-led UK-wide network, we (NFFN) know business as usual is not an option.

This RASE infographic describes how 'the farm of the future' can implement low and zero carbon energy strategies on-farm.

A set of principles to support the implementation of integrated landscape approaches that emphasize adaptive management, stakeholder involvement, and multiple objectives

Trees – what role could they play in helping reduce emissions in our food system? Prof Heiko Balzter (University of Leicester) and one our Champions last year, has synthesised research on agroforestry in this report – Agroforestry as a tool for net zero in the UK.

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