Carbon footprinting and Agrecalc

A carbon footprint identifies the quantity and source of GHG emissions (carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide) associated with an activity or a product through its life cycle and, when benchmarked, highlights areas where improvements can be made that will reduce emissions and save money.

At the farm level emissions arise from the use of fossil fuels, manufactured inputs, manure, as a natural by-product of animal digestion, cultivation of soils and changes in land use and vegetation. Beyond the farm gate agri-food chains also emit emissions through activities such as processing, packaging, waste management and haulage.

The Agricultural Resource Efficiency Calculator, Agrecalc determines resource use and GHG emissions for the whole farm, per enterprise and per unit of saleable product. Only by breaking down emissions and resource use by enterprise can weaknesses be identified, meaningful comparisons be made and targeted mitigation advice be given.

Key features of Agrecalc

  • Enterprises include beef, sheep, dairy, pigs, poultry, cereals, oilseeds, potatoes, vegetables and fruits
  • Emissions and resource use are calculated for the whole farm, per enterprise and per unit of saleable product
  • Benchmarking of emissions and resource use against similar businesses
  • Year on year comparisons of results
  • Generates whole farm sustainability indicators and key performance indicators
  • Future proof. Agrecalc has been developed with the help of SRUC research to ensure it can be updated as science develops
  • Uses IPCC Tier I and II calculations
  • PAS 2050 compliant providing assurance that the GHG emissions being reported are calculated in a consistent way across the industry

What can you do?

There is increasing pressure for producers to increase the efficiency of their business whilst reducing their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Although this may appear challenging, making more efficient use of resources, i.e. inputs, strongly correlates with reduced production costs and emissions, providing the industry with many opportunities. A carbon footprint could also help you to identify the scope for previously hidden savings on routine activities on the farm.

To undertake a free audit register via the Agrecalc website. Carbon footprinting is also available as part of an Integrated Land Management Plan (ILMP).  Currently there is funding available for a farm carbon footprint through the Farm Advisory Service, find more details here.