26 May 2021
Agriculture accounts for around 12% of Wales' GHG emissions, and it has a crucial role to play in helping Wales meet its commitment to achieve ‘net zero’ emissions by 2050.
Similarly, agriculture is central to addressing the significant losses of biodiversity over the last decades. We know that measures that reduce GHG emissions and promote biodiversity will likely feature prominently in future schemes open to farmers.
We also know that consumers are enquiring more than ever about the sustainability of the food that they purchase, from the GHG emissions associated with its production to its impacts on habitats and water quality.
In response, major competitors to Welsh agriculture (e.g. Ireland, New Zealand and Australia) have all introduced programmes to reduce the environmental impacts of their production systems.
There has therefore never been a greater need for Welsh agriculture to respond. However, it is important to note that doing so can also bring direct business benefits. In terms of reducing net GHG emissions from agriculture, there are two options: i) improving efficiency of production, and ii) increasing the sequestration of carbon. Let’s look at both separately.
Firstly, there are dozens of ways to improve the efficiency of production. Different options exist for different farms, including improving animal health and reducing losses, only applying fertiliser where it’s needed, making best use of feed and optimal grassland management. As well as reducing the costs of production, this would reduce the carbon footprint of your products (e.g. every kg of meat or litre of milk produced on your farm) and could help ‘free up’ land for habitat creation.
Secondly, agriculture can off-set some of its own emissions by sequestering carbon in soils and growing plants. Soil storage of carbon can be increased through reducing the frequency of tilling and erosion, and inclusion of deep-rooting species. Planting trees in appropriate locations and letting hedges grow wider and taller can also enhance sequestration and reduce your farm’s overall carbon footprint as well as creating habitats, whilst bringing other benefits such as improved shelter for livestock.
Farmers should therefore explore the opportunities for how such measures can make both environmental and business sense. So-called “win–wins” demonstrate how agriculture is very much part of the answer in helping to address environmental issues.
With expert advice through the Advisory Service, support services, guidance, events and training available through Farming Connect, you will be able to implement cost-effective, efficient systems which will not only help you play your part in reducing carbon emissions, climate change and flooding but help your business be more profitable too.
For further information about support available, contact your local Farming Connect development officer. Alternatively, visit our website or call the Farming Connect Service Centre 08456 000 813.
Farming Connect, which is delivered by Menter a Busnes and Lantra, has received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities - Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.