June potatoes-5

AHDB’s Farm Excellence network is set to launch its first wave of on-farm carbon footprinting this month.

A total of 40 strategic and monitor farms, chosen to represent a range of regions, systems and sectors,will be the first to be assessed to determine their carbon footprint.

The assessments will be carried out by SAC Consulting and ADAS between November 2020 and March 2021, with results leading tobespoke mitigation measures in detailed carbon action plans.

Dr Jonathon Foot, AHDB’s head of environment, explained: “The assessments are essentially the gathering of information – to identify and quantify all activities or inputs on farm that come with a carbon footprint. This can be anything from diesel, electricity, feed, and fertiliser and so on.

“Once this is established, we can then calculate the carbon-to-output ratio, i.e. how much carbon is being emitted per unit of output. This will then be assessed or benchmarked to determine where savings lie, and a bespoke plan created.'

Tim Isaac, director of knowledge exchange at AHDB, added that farmer input and actions would be crucial to successful outcomes. “Implementing changes on farm can sometimes be a challenge and concerns are often raised about cost implications and wider impacts on productivity,' he said. 'However, evidence generally points towards ‘better for the environment equals better for businesses, so there are potentially benefits to be had all around.

“The key part of these assessments will be the identification of the specific measures the individual farms can take – while some will be unique to each one, we also expect some common themes to emerge. This will allow us to develop case studies and share practical tips and learnings widely through our knowledge exchange activity”.

The first cohort of farms will consist of three potato growers, 13 cereal and oilseed growers, 10 beef and lamb producers, 10 milk producers and four pork producers. The initial wave offers a springboard for more activity to be launched under the new five-year AHDB strategy being published later this year, the organisation pointed out.

Moving forward, AHDB said environmental sustainability will be a key strategic focus area, especially with ELMS payments on the horizon and the industry’s aim to be carbon neutral by 2050.