Carbon footprinting & 'Locking-in Carbon' on the farm
Take a Carbon Audit
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.
There are numerous carbon foot-printing tools available for use, including, but not limited to:
- Farm Carbon Calculator
- Cool Farm Tool
- Sloagro (JRC) Carbon Calculator
Whichever tool you choose to use to calculate your farm carbon emissions, it is important that you continue to use this annually so that any results are comparable year -on-year. It is also preferable that the tool selected is PAS 2050 accredited.
Carbon auditing is also available as part of an Integrated Land Management Plan (ILMP).
Farming For a Better Climate has used Agrecalc© for any carbon audits completed during the initiative.
Locking-in carbon on the farm
Through tweaks to current practices, farms are in a good position to lower their carbon footprint and lock carbon into the soil and vegetation. This process is known as creating ‘carbon sinks’ or sometimes referred to as ‘carbon sequestration’.
Through the Woodland Carbon Code, some farms participate in ‘carbon offset’ schemes through planting woodland and bringing an additional income stream into the business.
- Take action to control soil erosion
- Protect peatland and moorland from damage by avoiding ploughing, drainage and over grazing
- Consider reduced tillage to protect farm soils and reduce carbon losses - see how the Soil Regenerative Agriculture Group are managing their journey to no-till farming
- On plough based systems, retaining and incorporating straw and other crop residues will help to maintain soil organic matter
- Manage existing farm woodlands and consider new planting
- Create wildlife corridors along water margins, field margins and headlands
- Retain and conserve semi-natural grasslands
- Protect and where necessary restore wetlands including floodplain management
Read about our Soil Regenerative Agriculture Group - made up of a group of 5 farmers working together to establish how best to support, enhance and protect their farm soils.
For further information and advice, take a look at our Practical Guides
- Greenhouse gas emissions
- Improving resource use efficiency on arable farms
- Benefits from carbon footprinting on the beef farm
- Benefits from carbon footprinting on the dairy farm
- Cover crops
- Farm woodlands and carbon
- Field drainage
- Farm Woodlands for Shelter
- Agroforestry for beef and sheep farmers
The full range of our Practical Guides is available via the 'Downloads' link at the foot of this page.
Advice on conservation, biodiversity and farm woodlands is available through the FAS website and may also be available from other conservation bodies
For advice on locking in carbon and protecting soils and to see what other farmers have done, see our range of Practical Guides and Farmer Case Studies. Farming and Water Scotland and the Soil & Nutrient Network also provide useful information.