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What is agriculture doing to reduce its environmental impact?

Agriculture has acted to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions despite economic challenges and significant weather events, according to a new report.
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The industry is working towards GHG reduction targets
The industry is working towards GHG reduction targets

 

The Greenhouse Gas Action Plan’s 2016 progress report shows how agriculture can contribute towards meeting UK and international climate goals.

 

It is the principal mechanism for delivering the farming industry’s commitment to reducing annual emissions in England by three million tonnes CO2-equivalent by 2020, without compromising domestic production.

 

The report charts progress including increased professionalism, the launch of the Feed Adviser Register, the addition of new GHG mitigation training into the Fertiliser Advisers Certification and Training Scheme (FACTS), farmers signing up to DairyPro and the Pig Industry Professional register.

 

Guy Smith, vice president of the NFU, said: “Farmers are committed to improving their businesses whether it’s fine tuning nutrient management on arable farms, so reducing nitrous oxide emissions, or tackling infections on livestock units, so decreasing methane emissions. But if farming is to fulfil its future potential, the food chain must support profitable farming, backed by the government providing the right regulatory framework and fiscal incentives.

 

“The irony is that with exciting current developments in technology such as robotics, GPS guidance, remote sensing and camera recognition, farmers increasingly have the ability to farm more precisely and thus reduce their GHG footprint, but without a profit margin the necessary investment cannot be made.”

 

Head of environment policy at the Agriculture Industries Confederation Jane Salter said: “The support and openness of the GHG Research Platform has been exemplary and we look forward to incorporating its research into the next phase of our work. We’ve also benefited from the expertise within Defra statistics, and the wealth of survey data has been the bedrock on which we’ve built our report. It’s critically important that this collaborative approach continues.”

 

Richard Laverick, chief technical officer at the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), added: “The work of AHDB focuses on supporting farmers and the supply chains across all sectors to improve productivity and deliver reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. We aim to make our industry more competitive and sustainable through factual, evidence-based information and activity”.

 

Increased soil sampling on grasslands and adoption of renewables are among the measures helping deliver climate change mitigation whilst improving business.

 

The report is available here.

 

The action plan was launched in 2011 by environmental consultancy ADAS, the Agricultural Engineers Association, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, the National Farmers’ Union, the Agricultural Industries Confederation, the CLA, LEAF, the National Institute of Agricultural Botany, and the Organic Research Centre.

 


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Greenhouse Gas Action Plan priorities

 

  • Management skills and advice
  • Crop nutrient management including crop health
  • Soil and land management
  • Livestock nutrition
  • Livestock health, fertility and genetics
  • Energy efficiency and renewables
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