Launch stresses role for growers

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08 March 2022
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Farm of the Future: Journey to Net Zero report unveiled

The Royal Agricultural Society of England’s report Farm of the Future: Journey to Net Zero was launched today (March 8th March) at the Low Carbon Agricultural Show. The report follows a COP26 policy brief which was published by the organisation in October 2021. 

The Farm of the Future report’s strong emphasis on the responsibility of rural decarbonisation lying in the hands of growers outlines how interlinked factors will determine the rate of progress - such as accurate economic valuation of natural capital, technology and investment, plus knowledge exchange and, crucially, a modernising overhaul of rural digital connectivity.

Lord Deben, Chairman of the UK’s Climate Change Committee, said within the report: “By 2050, fossil fuels will have no place on our farms, and to that end every year, serious reductions must be made.”

The Farm of the Future report was commissioned by RASE to pull together the latest science and its on-farm application, show what growers can realistically achieve, and to identify practical steps they can take to decarbonise the farming industry.
Growers and land managers have a key role to play in developing a more circular, resource-efficient rural economy. Many farmers need help, advice, and support if they are to embrace transformational change, adopt new ideas and technologies, while make fundamental adjustments to the way that they farm.

Phillip Gready, Chairman of RASE said: “British farmers can play a pivotal role in developing sustainable land use which meets the objectives of feeding the population, whilst sequestrating more carbon than we emit and improving soil health, water quality and biodiversity.”

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The report is practical in its guidance, highlighting the emissions reduction options available to farmers and growers, including improved resource management, renewable energy generation, use of low emission farm vehicles, replacement of fossil fuels and adoption of digital technologies.  

Like much of the climate-related guidance for farmers from other organisations, RASE’s report has a very strong emphasis on improving soil health through investment in natural capital. 

Its authors said that British growers large and small will have to transform their operations, but that they all need government, research, industry and supply chain support. 

Mr Gready said: “For transformation to happen, farmers need practical guidance on the decarbonisation options based on currently available and emerging technologies, along with independent advice and technology demonstration sites. To improve carbon capture, they need access to farm-level emissions accounting and benchmarking tools.”

The report cited that the need for changes to husbandry and management practices must be underpinned by workable policies that will initiate practical changes, while effective, consistent, cross-sectoral policy development from across government, including Defra, BEIS, DfT and HM Treasury, is vital to help deliver rural decarbonisation. 

Mr Gready added: “Policy makers must work more closely together and engage with farmers and land managers to deliver a generational shift in farming practices.  This includes deployment of new technologies, including those developed in the UK - that meet farmers’ needs. It extends to the replacement of fossil fuels - especially subsidised ‘red’ diesel - with low emission alternatives.” 
 
Following the report, RASE plans to work with the industry to stimulate change. The Farm of the Future Report along with other specialist papers outlining ‘enterprise journeys’ can be found here.

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