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‘Carbon farming’ trial will explore how farms can reduce climate impact

PUBLISHED: 07:28 01 May 2020 | UPDATED: 08:25 01 May 2020

Rural agency Brown and Co is working with Defra to explore carbon capture opportunities on farms, such as introducing grazing livestock into arable rotations. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Rural agency Brown and Co is working with Defra to explore carbon capture opportunities on farms, such as introducing grazing livestock into arable rotations. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2018

A 15-month project has been launched to explore how farms can capture carbon to combat climate change – and how they can be rewarded for it to replace revenue lost from EU subsidies.

Brexit has sparked the biggest change in rural policy for a generation, with the current system of land-based Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) subsidies being phased out in favour of a new Environmental Land Management System (ELMS) which will pay farmers public money for providing “public goods”, such as improving soil health, boosting wildlife or mitigating climate change. The seven-year transition is due to start next year.

Rural agents at Brown and Co are working with Defra on an ELMS “carbon farming test and trial” which will help shape the replacement policy. It will involve interaction with farmers on the ground to assess carbon capture and offset opportunities which could be integrated into a commercial farming enterprise.

Henry Treloar, an agri-business consultant in the Norwich office of Brown and Co, said: “Agriculture has a big part to play in initiatives against global warming. That is not because farmers are the issue, but we can be part of the solution with the carbon storage capacity in the fields and the plants. The ability to do that alongside being a commercial farmer is very exciting.

“It is a really encouraging step that we can add these elements of good regenerative farming practices for mitigating climate change while still producing the food that we need as a society.

“The test and trial will look at changes in the way fields are implemented or crops established, whether it is bringing grass and livestock into arable rotations and how it could fit into those systems – and what the carbon benefit could be for the business and for the UK as a whole.

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“It is also looking at quantifying things that farmers are already doing anyway. There are a lot of positive things we do with farming and we don’t always stand up on a soapbox and make a big thing about but, with BPS going, farmers will feel the pinch because it is a hefty chunk of income to lose. This is about making sure those businesses still have income to support their farming, but finding ways to produce those public goods as well – and there can be no greater public good than mitigating climate change.”

The firm will be looking for 200 participants across the country, and will be issuing a “call to action” to get farm businesses involved later in the summer.

• To register your interest contact henry.treloar@brown-co.com


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