Halghton Hall Project Introduction: Understanding a red meat farm’s current and potential carbon stock: opportunities to enhance sequestration and offset greenhouse gas emissions

Site: Halghton Hall, Bangor-on-Dee, Wrexham

Technical Officer: Non Williams

Project Title: Understanding a red meat farm’s current and potential carbon stock: opportunities to enhance sequestration and offset greenhouse gas emissions


Introduction to project: 

Welsh Government is committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050; a target that is equivalent to that of the whole of the UK. A 64% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the agriculture and land-use sector has been recommended by the Committee on Climate Change based on the net zero carbon target, with the same recommendation deemed appropriate for the livestock sector in particular. Emissions produced from livestock systems derive from various sources, such as enteric fermentation, manure and fertiliser application. Nevertheless, the sector also has the capability to sequester (absorb) carbon from the atmosphere to balance the emissions produced. Ultimately, achieving ‘carbon neutral farming’ will require a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions production, as well as increasing carbon sequestration from agricultural systems.

Soils may be carbon sinks (sequestering carbon) or sources (releasing carbon) depending on a number of factors, such as land use, management practices, climate and soil type. Quantifying a common baseline in soil carbon stocks is a challenge due to this. It is generally perceived that agricultural soils are high in soil organic matter (SOM) and carbon (SOC). Measurable improvements to SOM and SOC as a result of changes in soil management practices occurs gradually over several years. Furthermore, accumulation over time will reach an equilibrium, whereby inputs and loss are equal. The detailed data collected as part of this project will be used to provide an insight into how SOM and SOC can differ within a single farming system, depending on land use and the management practices implemented. Furthermore, the project aims to address how these levels can be further enhanced or preserved within the soil.

Agri-environment schemes (Glastir Entry followed by Glastir Advanced) have been key at Halghton Hall in the restoration of hedgerows and wildlife corridor creation over the past decade. In addition to this, attention has been given to manage existing green infrastructure. This project will investigate the impact of woodland and hedgerow management on their carbon storage potential, as well as opportunities to increase carbon stocks to offset the greenhouse gas emissions produced on-farm.


Project objectives:

The overarching aim of this project will be to monitor the carbon storage and sequestration levels from soils, trees and hedgerows at Halghton Hall. Furthermore, to determine the potential to offset greenhouse gas emissions produced on-farm via sequestration (thus resulting in the farm’s net carbon balance). This project will give an insight into the carbon stocks and sequestration potential associated with different soil types and land uses.

The project objectives will be as follows:

  • Carry out a soil carbon audit on a proportion of the farm’s fields (mixture of grazed and arable fields)
  • Determine and evaluate the SOM and SOC levels across the whole farm platform based on the sampled fields
  • Project changes in SOM and SOC levels depending on changes in land management in the future (measure trends)
  • Estimate carbon storage/sequestration levels from the farm’s woodlands and hedges (includes those recently established)
  • Estimate the farm’s efficiency of production by measuring the emissions intensity (emissions produced/unit of output produced)
  • Estimate the farm’s net carbon balance (GHGs produced on the farm minus sequestration levels)


Key Performance Indicators set:

Following soil sampling and initial assessment of the farm’s green infrastructure, specific Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) will be set. It is infeasible to set the KPIs at the outset, as the soil carbon stock is unknown at this point. Nevertheless, the project aims to present different practical land management scenarios of how soil carbon stocks may be increased over the next 5-10 years.


Timeline and milestones: