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UK experts debate carbon capture and achieving "net zero" in farming

Calls for a single, harmonised farm sustainability assessment were made at Energy and Rural Business Show this March in the event’s debate on achieving "net zero" in agriculture.

12 March 2020, at 11:12am

Patrick Holden, founding director at the sustainable food trust, stated that we need an audit system on which to base farm payments. “First, there should be an audit for the baseline data so there is a common language to base farm sustainability assessment on,” he said.

Also speaking in the debate, Dr Jonathan Scurlock, chief policy adviser, renewable energy and climate change at the NFU, was positive about the contribution farmers can make in tackling climate change. “We believe we can counterbalance agricultural emissions overall, and innovation will play a big part in reaching net zero in agriculture.”

“We need to incentivise farmers to store carbon and connect to the gas grid,” added Jonathan.

Merlin Hyman, chief executive for Regen, said that agriculture will have to do a lot more than achieve net zero emissions and it’s likely they will have to capture emissions from other sectors.

Mark Broadmeadow, the Forestry Commission's principal adviser for climate change, said “We need to plant more trees, but we need the right spaces to grow and establish quickly and we need to think very carefully about suitable trees for a changing climate."

Mark referenced the recent Committee on Climate Change ‘Land Use Policies for a Net Zero UK’ report, in his presentation. “The report has recommended that more land is taken up for bioenergy production. We need to think carefully about the trees planted for biomass supply.”

Energy and Rural Business Show took place for the first time at the East of England Arena on 3 and 4 March 2020.

The event welcomed thousands of farmers and landowners through the doors, looking at low emission, sustainable and renewable diversification projects to future-proof their businesses.

Key features at the show included a cross-section of low carbon vehicles, a new test track, an exhibition of leading product and service suppliers from across the sector, and a well-attended multi-streamed conference, covering everything from AD and biogas enhancement, biomass, solar, identifying and maximising the value of agri-outputs and waste streams to energy and environmental management.