Last month, Germinal UK and Ireland Managing Director Paul Billings had the pleasure of appearing on the Net Zero from Productive Grassland panel as part of Countryside COP2.
Modelled on COP27 and its themes, Countryside COP2 is organised by CFE (Championing the Farmed Environment) and returned for a second year in 2022. COP2’s ultimate goal is to bring the UK’s rural community together to show how Net Zero can be realised.
Running from 10 to 14 October, there were 14 events, taking the form of online webinars as well as tenant farmer evenings and stakeholder forums that were hosted in person. An additional event was hosted for land managers on 19 October.
Alongside Germinal, there were several respected organisations and institutions, including Aberystwyth University, the Met Office, Defra and Yorkshire Water.
Reducing agriculture emissions from ruminants grazing grasslands
On 13 October, Paul was joined on the panel by speakers Dr David Lloyd, Dr Christina Marley and Professor Jon Moorby – all of Aberystwyth University.
The four panellists were tasked with discussing: ‘How can we reduce emissions from ruminants grazing grasslands and maintain dairy and red meat production?’
Over the course of an hour, the panellists explored how dairy and red production can be maintained but with ruminant emissions reduced while grazing grassland.
Viewers were introduced to new plant technologies with the power to help ruminant livestock utilise plant protein more efficiently. New technologies have also been developed to reduce methane output among ruminant livestock.
Once the panel was concluded, three key recommendations were provided to encourage implementation in the UK agriculture industry
- Reduction of artificial nitrogen, which would be compensated by an increase in forage legume use.
- Regenerative agricultural practices to improve whole farm systems and soil carbon capture.
- Recognition of the importance of improved grasslands as a feedstock for productive livestock agriculture.
Prevailing themes of COP2
Across the entirety of COP, there were three prevailing themes among the recommendations:
- The need to gather support for those in the industry trying to improve their sustainability, whether that be cost, investment, training or research.
- The need to establish detailed but flexible policy frameworks which focus on modern sustainability measures across sectors.
- Relating to the second theme, there was a common call for a platform for productive discussions and recognition of effective but also sustainable land usage.
The key issues facing UK agriculture
Following COP2, CFE has produced a word cloud based on which issues are currently on the minds of people working in the UK agriculture industry.
“A word map is a great way of taking everyone’s opinions into account, but also showing where the strongest views are held,” explained Paul Billings.
“The word map produced from our session has a wide range of views, but also a common thread – replacing synthetic nitrogen fertiliser with clover or legumes which provide nitrogen for their own growth and the growth of companion plants. They are a low-input natural sustainable solution for continued food production.”
For more information on the Net Zero from Productive Grasslands Partnership (NZPGP) click here.