The Net Zero from Productive Grasslands Partnership (NZPGP) is a collaboration from across the supply chain and brought together by Germinal and Aberystwyth University’s Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS). The partnership’s aim is to help grassland farmers achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.
In working to establish where their efforts are best targeted, the NZPGP ran an online survey for a group of livestock farmers distributed across the UK. The results were very clear with, fertiliser use featuring highly.
When asked about the biggest steps farmers can take to reduce emissions while maintaining production, using forage legumes in place of N applications came out top at 76%, with another 48% stating less fertiliser use. Reduced ploughing and improved animal nutrition were also important. Not surprisingly, fewer than 1% of respondents suggested cutting livestock numbers.
Net Zero research priorities
Reflecting those results, future research priorities were seen to involve the development of forages requiring fewer applications of N and P first and foremost (63%). This was followed by better soil management, including reduced soil disturbance, and improving the conversion of plant protein to animal protein. This currently stands below 10% for ruminant animals.
The farmers surveyed were also asked about any gaps in their knowledge relating to the move towards Net Zero – again, these were clear-cut. Over half who commented said they’d like to know more about measuring carbon stocks. A similar number are looking to increase their knowledge of different forages and diverse pastures to reduce carbon emissions.
Carbon footprint tool
Carbon footprinting also received a good deal of attention, with many calling for a universal footprint tool taking account of all enterprises. A significant number also wanted more information from industry, researchers and government on the impact of management systems, with a small group suggesting additional finance to help farmers achieve Net Zero targets.
An impressive number of farmers suggested ideas and partial solutions themselves. These ranged from ways to make more use of renewable energy and bioenergy crops on-farm, to the role of permanent pasture in sequestering carbon and improving production efficiencies.
Commenting on the findings, Germinal GB managing director Paul Billings said: “When you read the responses in full, you can feel the farmers’ desire to start the journey and implement change. But, at the same time, a wave of almost despair that they don’t have the knowledge of their starting point, what they need to actually do or how they will measure their success.”
As a whole supply chain initiative, the NZPGP recognises farming has much to do to achieve Net Zero but believes by working together it can make a tangible difference to the future of the livestock industry.
The Net Zero from Productive Grasslands Partnership whole supply chain network partners are: Germinal, Aberystwyth University, Mole Valley Farmers, Dalehead Foods Ltd, Sainsburys, Waitrose, LEAF, NFU, NFU Cymru, CIEL, KTN, Hybu Cig Cymru, AHDB, Pilgrim’s UK, Müller Milk and Ingredients, WD Farmers Ltd, NRM, Kingshay.
To find out more: Supply chain partnership to drive progress on-farm Net Zero
Germinal provides UK grass seed that will support sustainable farming and Net Zero efforts for years to come.