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Farmers working towards net-zero

By Rebecca Audsley, Farming For a Better Climate Project Lead, SAC Consulting

As no two farms are the same, it's difficult to provide a definitive blueprint for reducing emissions on farm that will work for all.  However, there are a few general principles that are worth considering as part of any low carbon business:

Know your starting point

Where do most of your greenhouse gas losses come from?  An annual carbon footprint is another way to look at your business performance and demonstrate change year on year.  It can show how you compare with like businesses, highlighting areas where you excel or activities that offer scope for savings, both in terms of cash and/or carbon. Scotland's Farm Advisory Service (FAS) could offer funding towards a carbon audit - see www.fas.scot/carbon-audits

Identify low carbon measures suited to your farm

What practical actions could you adapt or adopt?  The volunteer Climate Change Focus Farmers showed even the most technically efficient farms can still cut emissions and realise financial benefits through low or no cost changes to routine activities.  Areas for reduction were often centred around soils an nutrient use (soil testing, soil health and nutrient budgeting) and livestock management (feed, fertility and health).

Monitor and measure, review and refine

How much fuel are you using?  Are there options for reduced tillage within your rotation? What's the nutritional value of your silage and could you further tailor your ration?  There are plenty of simple and practical measures to consider that can enhance productivity, profitability and reduce your farm carbon footprint with no loss of production.

Promote what you do!

Farmers are already taking steps to combat climate change - tell people!  On the run up to COP26 last October, Farming for a Better Climate social media featured farmers across Scotland highlighting just one of the ways they were reducing emissions from their farm.  If you missed it, see #26days26ways on Facebook and Twitter at @SACFarm4Climate.

Explore our website to view our Practical guides and case studies based on activities on the Focus Farms and within the current Farming for a Better Climate Soil Regenerative Agriculture Group.

This article from Farming for a Better Climate was first published in the Farming Scotland Magazine in January 2022.