22 March 2022
Supercharging low carbon methods to deliver food and energy security urged at Low Carbon Agriculture show
THE importance of renewable energy and robust food security has increased since the Ukraine war has triggered even sharper rises in energy prices and food supply fears, speakers told those who attended the recent Low Carbon Agriculture Show in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire.
Farming policy should address these concerns, according to Jonathan Scurlock from the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), speaking in the keynote session. “There are three big policy drivers; Energy security, climate change, and food security,” he said.
Speaking in the same session, Minister for farming, fisheries and food at Defra, Victoria Prentis, said that the world has changed over the past few weeks and agriculture has gone even higher up the agenda, stating that schemes at all levels will encourage low carbon practices on farms.
Nina Skorupska, Chief Executive at the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA), said that renewable energy is key to energy security and farmers sit in this green picture. “If we accelerate UK renewable energy, we could create over 238,000 jobs in renewable and clean tech by 2030. Flexibility is the key to security.”
Lee Waters, Deputy Minister for climate change, from the Welsh Government, spoke about working together to reach net zero. “We know farming can deal with change and the choice is ours – do we act?
“Spending less on fertiliser and using fewer chemicals is a no-brainer and means we will spend less money and have less environmental impact,” said Lee.
Conference sessions underlined the need to produce as much sustainable food as we can in the UK, without diminishing natural capital, with profound changes to farming practices needed. “For the first time there might be a business case for producing food in harmony with nature,” said Patrick Holden, founding director at the Sustainable Food Trust.
Farmers urged to ‘know the baseline’
With sessions on soil health, carbon farming, mitigating climate change in agriculture, and all renewable energy types, the message to farmers was clear – know your baseline. Richard Bramley, chair of NFU Environment Forum, said “Regenerative farming is a long journey, but you need to start somewhere. Identifying the items for you to address is key.”
Gavin Lane, CLA vice president, echoed this point in the debate on ‘Reaching Net Zero in Farming,’ chaired by Tom Heap. “Determining a baseline is crucial to highlighting areas we can do something about.
“We’ve got to work out how we reduce our artificial fertiliser requirements,” said Gavin.
Low Carbon Agriculture Show took place in person at the NAEC, Stoneleigh, over two days on 8 and 9 March 2022, welcoming thousands of farmers and landowners, and included four key areas of focus: Energy Now Expo, Environmental Business Expo, Low Emission Vehicles Expo, and Farm Technology Expo.
The event featured more than 100 expert speakers, with representatives from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Department for Transport (DfT), Environment Agency, Welsh Government, National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and Country Land and Business Association (CLA) discussing topics ranging from soil health, carbon farming, and sustainable water management to updates on environmental land management schemes, and dedicated sessions for each renewable energy type, as well as agri-tech and seminars on energy storage and Low Emission Vehicles (LEVs).
“The show covered some of the most important issues affecting society today - energy security, climate change mitigation and food security," said event director David Jacobmeyer. "It was wonderful to see so many farmers and industry representatives who share this belief at the show and to be back in person! We're all looking forward to the next installment."
The next Low Carbon Agriculture show will take place on February 7th and 8th 2023 at the National Agriculture and Exhibition Centre (NAEC), Stoneleigh, Warwickshire.