What’s on : Cafe-scientifique
Achieving farming’s Net Zero challenge
Andrew Loftus and James Mills
Last year, the National Farmers Union outlined its ambitious goal of achieving ‘Net Zero’ greenhouse gas emissions across the whole of agriculture by 2040 – a full decade ahead of Government targets.
Uniquely placed to be part of the solution, because agricultural land is both a source of GHG emissions and a major carbon sink, the industry will nevertheless need to ‘science the hell’ out of the problem. We know emissions from UK farms presently amount to 45.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent a year – about one tenth of UK GHG emissions. But in stark contrast to the rest of the economy, only 10 per cent of this is CO2. More than 50% is short-lived methane (CH4). And a huge part UK’s potential carbon sequestration depends upon how we use our farmland.
The NFU believes the goal is challenging but achievable using a range of measures that fall under three broad headings: improving farming’s productivity, adapting land use to capture more carbon and boosting renewable energy.
To discuss this challenge as it relates to their farms are two Yorkshire farmers – beef farmer Andrew Loftus and mixed arable and sheep farmer James Mills.
• Andrew Loftus farms traditional suckler beef cattle on his farm in Grewelthorpe, near Masham. He has worked throughout the supply chain, including meat processing and for a major supermarket. Depending on the system of carbon accounting used, he believes his beef production is already carbon-neutral.
• James Mills is a mixed arable and sheep farmer in Appleton Roebuck, York. Following three generations of his family, the current focus is on achieving high levels of productivity and achieving key environmental targets such as water storage and soil and biodiversity improvements.
A Cafe Scientifique Event
Hosted on Zoom. YPS Members are sent details just before the event.
At the last moment James Mills was unavailable but he arranged for Richard Bramley, Arable farmer who is a member of the National Farmers Union’s Environment Forum, to speak to us. Here are the slides he presented: