Low Carbon Farming Project
- To create farmers practitioner learning networks which facilitate best practice in low carbon farming through peer to peer support
- To provide good quality information (including case studies), tools and signposting to support these networks
- To disseminate project outcomes particularly in the south west but also as widely as possible across the UK
- Produce high quality and evolving case studies to exemplify best practice. These case studies will cover a range of agricultural and horticultural enterprises.
- Run low carbon workshops to pull together exemplars of best practice, assess farmer need, carry out knowledge transfer and disseminate project outcomes.
- Assess and approve appropriate low carbon "tools" compatible with PAS 2050 for use on farm. This will lead to the production of a user friendly method of assessing continuous improvement on farms against yield, carbon footprint, sustainability and turnover.
- Collate farmer feedback from a user friendly carbon foot printing exercise to develop a benchmarking facility.
- Run small on farm training courses across the UK.
- Signpost farmers to high quality low carbon advice and information services and grants through web information, telephone help line and through regional rural support services.
- Develop on-line networking for farmers
The project will make every effort to include as many conventional farmers in networking, training and dissemination.
By the end of the project the following outcomes will have been achieved:
- Case study information with regular updates
- Web information established (with interaction where possible)
- Training / networking events
- Direct training for producer participants
- On- line / phone support for participants
- Tried and tested user friendly toolkit/s available for general farmer use including a guidance document on carbon foot-printing in farming
- Demonstrable improvement in carbon balance on participant farms, with associated reduction in diffuse pollution.
- A lobby to achieve policy change in order to further facilitate improvement in on farm low carbon performance.
Potential environmental and climate change impact
An improvement in low carbon status on participating farms will be attained over the lifespan of the projects by implementing and linking a variety of innovative techniques focusing on the following areas:
- reduce use of fossil fuels on farm, by reducing energy requirements and the use of inputs, through improved systems and renewable on farm technologies.
- naturally improve soil fertility and reduce flooding and erosion, by increasing organic matter, nitrogen fixation and water retention in soils
- increase the carbon fixing capacity of the farm through maximising carbon sequestration in the soil, crops, woodland and waterways; thus becoming a carbon sink rather than source
- reducing the impact of livestock on GHG emissions, through evaluating and implementing different systems, breeding and management regimes
- optimising soil quality and nutrients, make more of manure and composted material, trialing and evaluating different crop varieties
- reducing waste, by reducing packaging and increasing the use of recyclable packaging
- improving local food supply chain efficiency, exploring and setting up alternative distribution and marketing models within the business
- attendant improvements in biodiversity and human resource management through adopting more sustainable and holistic methods.