In going about the day to day business that is farming, including making business decisions, adapting to the weather and changing prices, making sure that you are not annoying the RPA, looking after stock and crops and finding a bit of time to get on top of all those maintenance jobs that need doing, worrying about reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is not usually high up the priority list.
This has been confirmed in a recent opinion poll by Defra, which found that “many farmers, but not the majority, recognise the importance of GHG emissions, but most remain unconvinced about the business benefits of reducing them, and struggle to find time to do anything about it.”
So for 2015, the Farm Carbon Cutting Toolkit is trying to do something about this, by bringing together pioneering farmers and experts to show where the business benefits are from reducing emissions and show that everyone can achieve savings and increase profitability.
The conference entitled “Farming Profitably in a Changing Climate” is on the 3rd February at the Rural Innovation Centre in Cirencester, and will explore practical measures to improve profitability on-farm and reduce emissions.
“Far from being another opportunity to berate farmers about the challenges that come from managing resources, this conference really aims to highlight the positive economic benefits that come from reducing emissions” explains farmer and FCCT directors Adam Twine. “There is a real opportunity for farmers to make a difference to their bottom line by making small changes to management of soil, nutrients, livestock and crops in spite of difficult economic conditions.”
“This conference will champion real farmers who are achieving real savings and give them a stage to show others how to do it.”
The morning sessions will include a talk by Rebecca Audsley, Climate change project manager from Scotland who has been running a demo farm project with Scottish farmers for the last three years. These demo farms which span a wide range of farming systems have yielded real results in terms of cutting carbon and costs. “This will be a great opportunity to share what has worked well on other farms and get practical ideas to boost farm profits and cut carbon,” explains Rebecca. “Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is really about maximising resource efficiency, which can in turn benefit both the farm business and the environment.”
The chief climate change advisor from the NFU Dr Ceris Jones will explain the policy drivers behind the science and show that getting involved isn’t complicated. She confirms “if your aims for your business are to improve productivity and profitability, then it’s likely that you’re already on the road to becoming a lower carbon farmer or grower.”
The morning session will also include the retailer’s perspective, with speakers from Marks & Spencer and PepsiCo on what’s driving them to focus on carbon and sustainability. There will also be an inspirational key note address from Farmers Weekly 2014 Sustainable Farmer of the Year Richard Clothier on implementing sustainability and low carbon technology at Wyke Farms.
In the afternoon the fun continues with delegates able to attend either a livestock or arable focussed session. These will be led by farmers who are achieving a real difference on-farm and will be supported by scientists. For arable farmers Nick August, a champion of cover cropping and controlled traffic farming will share his experiences, ably supported by Dr Jenni Dungait, a leading research scientist on soil carbon, and fertiliser advice from Yara and Edaphos. For livestock farmers, Nuffield Scholar Robert Thornhill will share his experience of implementing sustainable grazing systems and dairy farmer Tim Lock who supplies Marks & Spencer will explain how he integrates carbon into his business. This session will be supported by FCCT’s Becky Willson who will lead a discussion on manure management.
It promises to be an interesting day, with lots of discussion and sharing of ideas as well as opportunities to be inspired and make a change to your bottom line at home.
When looking at greenhouse gas emissions and carbon on-farm, the real danger is that because there is confusion, we do nothing and ignore it. So my challenge to you is to get involved now. Come along to the event and find out how to reduce emissions in a practical way and increase returns to your business.
This conference is supported by the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) for which Defra is the Managing Authority, part funded (or financed) by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas.