Farm Carbon Cutting Toolkit


11.01.16 NFU Survey concludes: weather volatility threatens British food production

The Survey from the NFU revealed that two thirds of farmers have noticed an increase in extreme weather consistent with the climate change impacts predicted by scientists. The majority of NFU members surveyed have seen changes in rainfall patterns and more floding with 25% also observing an increase in storms, gales or high winds.

Some farmers actually reported less severe weather with 10% saying that winters had generally become milder.

Download the infographic that has been produced with the key findings from the survey here.

Source: NFU 

06.01.16 New SIP newsletter out now

SIP Scene, the newsletter of the Sustainable Intensification Research Platform has released a new bulletin.

The Sustainable intensification research platform is focused on farming in England and Wales, but exists in a global setting of concerns over food security, global nutrition, climate change, economic instability, increasing technology, volatile food prices and threats to sustainability.

This issue includes articles by SIP partners and researchers.

To read it in full please click here.

To find out more about the project click here to visit the website.

21.12.15 Seasons greetings from FCCT

As the year draws to a close and, as the song says, “it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas”, it seems fitting to reflect for a brief moment on the year here at FCCT. It’s certainly been a busy one!

The year has seen some real highlights and fine examples of what FCCT strive to do; namely connect farmers and growers together to share ideas, have great conversations and highlight practical examples of how we can all reduce emissions, and improve efficiencies and ultimately profit.

Bringing together farmers

Our big conference in February brought some great farmers, people and speakers to talk about how we can farm profitably in a changing climate. Highlights from the morning included the fantastic Rebecca Audsley from Scotland who brought some really inspirational examples from the Climate Change Focus Farm programme that she has been running in Scotland. This showed bottom line benefits of reducing farm emissions, usually with minimal capital outlay. 

The other thing that the FCCT team felt was of great benefit were the breakout sessions in the afternoon, which were facilitated by FCCT. Farmers who were doing something different were showcased, and provided a great opportunity for questions and conversations around practical issues and how things work at the farm level. This highlighted to FCCT that this role of ‘connecting likeminded individuals together’ and providing a space to explore these issues was something that we wanted to expand.

Focussing on organic matter in the soil

Recently great discussions were held at our organic matter event in Warwickshire, where it was amazing for me to see so many great farmers all together talking about carbon and building soil organic matter. Certainly the whole soil agenda, including organic matter and how it is intrinsically linked to carbon sequestration is gathering momentum. As the International Year of Soils draws to a close, it has helped highlight some of the issues, and the crucial role that we as farmers have to play in the management and care of our most precious resource.

Reading through some of the early entries to our Soil Farmer of the Year competition is inspirational. Seeing how committed many farmers are to managing their soil, and ensuring that its health is enhanced and safeguarded for future generations, makes me genuinely excited for activities that we have planned for next year. Our Soil carbon project has various meetings planned over the coming months, and if you are up for hosting or taking part in one of them, let me know and we’ll get something sorted.

Demonstration farms

Our demo farm project, which we have had funding from Esmee Fairbairn to set up is going to start properly next year. It has taken a while to get our demo farmers through the carbon foot printing process, and we have had numerous conversations about how, if we are going to be subject to more stringent targets in terms of emissions reductions and auditing, then we all have to work together to see how streamlined we can make the process. With all the advances in technology, it can’t be that difficult surely?!

There will be events happening at all three demo farms across England next year, so again keep your eye on the website and the events list for more details as we finalise the plans.

Joining in a global movement

As well as the Soil Farmer of the Year, we are asking all farmers and growers to join us in showing the world that #SoilsAreSexy and deserve our help. For those of you on social media – follow @FarmC02Toolkit on Twitter and upload a picture of your soil with the hashtag #SoilsAreSexy and join in with the fun.  For those of you who aren’t on social media you can always email your images to me and I’ll add them to the gallery on the FCCT website.

The recent climate talks in Paris have focussed the world’s attention on the issues surrounding climate change, temperature rises and emissions.  Surprisingly though, agriculture hasn’t played much of a part in the discussions.  The agreement though signals the global commitment to do something, although as is always the way with these things, the devil is in the detail and the Paris pledge alone won’t meet the two degree target.  Further negotiations (and tough decisions) will need to be made, and is bound to look more closely at farming and food production.

What was encouraging though, was to see some of the other initiatives that were launched, France’s '4 per mille' initiative that aims to adapt agricultural practices across France that store carbon more efficiently in the soil and to raise the organic matter level in French soils and wider across the globe  by 0.4% per year. What this will mean is that we can direct more research into the most effective practices for achieving this, and by letting farmers into the conversation with the researchers (as at our event in Warwickshire a few weeks ago), try and bridge the gap between research and practice to deliver effective solutions.

Making farms part of the solution

What is different with agriculture though, when comparing it with other industries that have carbon reduction targets is the sheer diversity of enterprises, systems and environments that we as farmers have to deal with. Agriculture is unique in that there is no “one-size fits all” answer. Our farms that we manage are a unique mix of the earth beneath our feet, the weather that comes down from above and what we do as farmers working with the natural elements. It’s different and special, also because we need farmers to produce our three meals a day, as well as all the other benefits farming brings in terms of preserving the natural environment, safeguarding resources, providing clean water and air... the list could go on!  However doing nothing is not an option any more.  And it’s because of all these amazing things that we are in control of that we have to be part of the discussions.

So we have some challenging times ahead, with potentially more stringent GHG reduction targets, but it’s something that we should embrace head on, work together, share ideas and use the technology available to us to come up with new ideas!  We’re certainly excited about the possibilities.

So from everyone here at FCCT, have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year, and see you in 2016.

18.12.15 FCCT seeks new company directors

The Farm Carbon Cutting Toolkit (FCCT) is the UK’s only farmer-led organisation looking at practical, farm based actions to effectively reduce farm greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It is currently expanding its director base in order to scale up its activities.

About the organisation

FCCT was established in 2009 to raise awareness of GHGs within the agricultural industry and also to provide practical responses that any farmer, whatever their farming system, could put into place on their farm.

FCCT currently has three directors – Adam Twine, Jonathan Smith and Andrew Rigg, and part time project officer - Becky Willson.

FCCT developed the Toolkit and the Farm Carbon Calculator. Available on line and free of charge, they are designed to give any farmer, grower or advisor an understanding of the significance of GHGs, how they are generated through farming activities and what are the most effective actions that would make a difference to any farm.

The Farm Carbon Calculator gives a numerical and visual estimate of the GHG emissions across all farming enterprises (using current internationally agreed emission factors) and shows how they might change with any proposed changes to that farming system. Uniquely, it also provides an estimate of the amount of carbon sequestration that that farm is achieving.

FCCT also organises farm workshops and conferences - with a strong emphasis of farmer-led discussions. It also delivers talks to conferences and informal agricultural groups across a range of topics including energy efficiency, soil carbon, renewable energy generation, the market drivers for reducing emissions and the complexities of reducing GHG emissions.

FCCT is structured as a Community Interest Company (CIC). Its directors are not remunerated for the time they put into directing the organisation but are able to claim appropriate travel and other expenses and have at times received remuneration for specific pieces of work that they have carried out on behalf of the Company.

What we expect from Directors

FCCT is hoping to appoint up to two new directors. All potential directors are expected to:

  • be closely involved in day-to-day farming,
  • have a good understanding of the challenge of climate change and the need to reduce GHG emissions
  • contribute their experience to the organisation and help make a difference in this area.

There are monthly Board meetings through the year; they are usually conducted remotely via Skype. In the quieter farming months (autumn and winter) there are also more frequent Directors meetings to discuss work programmes.

We also try to meet in person twice a year to review and plan future direction. In addition to this, when FCCT is organising events or developing new initiatives, the directors(s) responsible for that initiative are expected to give support to the project officer in between Board meetings to ensure the intended goals are met.

FCCT currently has funding from Esmee Fairbairn, has been operating on a stable budget of around £10k for the past three years, and is currently seeking additional funding in order to achieve greater outreach and impact.

Application process

If you are interested in applying please write to Becky Willson at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it giving your:

  • experience
  • reasons for applying
  • what you hope to bring to the organisation
  • how you would like to see FCCT develop

Applications close on Sunday 30th January 2016.

Interviews for shortlisted applicants will be conducted mid-February and successful applicants invited to join the Board by 1st March. 
More information about the aims and visions of FCCT are available here

For more information please contact Becky Wilson by email or phone on 07875 356611.

17.12.15 New WRAP bulletin released

Where improved soil quality is concerned, not all organic matter is equal.

WRAP, Digestate and Compost in Agriculture, Bulletin 8 - December 2015

The UN has designated 2015 as the International Year of Soils, "to raise awareness of the importance of sustainable soil management", which is vital for food, fuel and fibre production as well as ecosystem function and adaptation to climate change. Results from SRAP's DC-Agri field experiments have a key role to play in this.

The experiments, comparing the ability of a range of organic materials to build soil organic matter levels over time, have shown that not all organic matter is equal and that compost builds levels much more quickly than other organic materials. They also show that repeated applications of compost are a valuable means by which farmers can improve soil quality.

Soil organic matter (SOM) is the organic component of soil, consisting of three primary parts: fresh plant residues and small living soil organisms, decomposing (active) organic matter (OM), and stable OM (humus). OM is important to soil fertility and crop productivity, and building and maintaining it is vital for sustainable soil management. The amount of OM in soils depends on soil texture, climate, the inputs and composition of orgnaic materials, the rate at which orgnaic matter is decomposed and the type of farming system employed.

Arable soils contain typically 1-3% OM (generally higher in Scottish soils) whilst grassland soils usually contain more. In general, for any one cropping system, the natural level of SOM in a clay soil will be higher than that in a sandy soil and this level will be higher under permanent grassland when compared with a continuous arable rotation.

WRAP's DC - Agri field experiments have assessed the effects of different types of organic material additions over time to a network of seven experimental sites across the UK. The sites were selected to represent a range of soil types, climatic conditions and crop rotations.  

To read the next bulletin with further details of the experiments and what they found, click here.

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