Carbon footprinting & ‘Locking-in Carbon’ on the farm

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. With careful management farms are in a good position to lower their carbon footprint and lock carbon into the soil and vegetation.

Take a Carbon Audit

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.An image of three footprints within a green circle, surrounded by the words carbon footprint surrounding the circle.

There are numerous carbon foot-printing tools available for use, including, but not limited to:

  • Agrecalc©
  • 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.

Practical Measures

  • 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.

Find out more


For further information and advice, take a look at our Resources

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