The National Farmers Union (NFU) has put together a plan that would make agriculture in the UK ‘carbon neutral’ by 2040, which would be a decade ahead of the Government’s overall zero emissions target.
According to the NFU, this three-part roadmap will produce high quality, affordable food while tackling emissions by improving productivity, increasing the number of trees and hedges, and growing more crops for energy.
The plan states that farm businesses could make an important contribution to the UK’s legally binding target to cut its climate emissions to zero. Work over the next 20 years could reduce or offset the 45.6 million tonnes of emissions which the agriculture industry is currently responsible for.
As well as improving health in cattle and sheep, and changing their diets to reduce methane emissions, farmers could boost carbon storage by restoring wetlands and growing bigger hedgerows, as well as planting more trees.
Additionally, the report suggests locking up carbon from the atmosphere by using plant-based building and insulation materials and capturing methane from animal manure to heat people’s homes.
The net-zero carbon target represents a significant opportunity for UK agriculture, with farmers able to choose from a variety of systems to enhance productivity while delivering the same output. This is advantageous to many in the industry as it means that less input needs to be used.
The NFU is also calling for a new Shared Prosperity Fund to put in place for rural development, offering a key source of financial support to farmers to ensure that a more carbon-neutral agriculture sector can be achieved.