We recognise that climate change is one of the most significant challenges facing the UK today. Because of this, sustainability is now a key part of our business strategy, and that of many of our customers and clients. However, the transition to sustainable business practices can be challenging without support. We are committed to helping our clients to transition to sustainable business models and operations, and to pursue new clean growth opportunities.
The UK Government has set an ambition to be net zero by 2050, with the National Farmers Union (NFU) setting the agriculture sector an even more ambitious goal of transitioning to net zero by 2040. This means achieving an overall balance between reducing greenhouse gas emissions produced and increasing carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere through sequestration.
We have produced a report outlining the critical recommendations to the agriculture sector as part of their transition to a net zero future, which are supported by a range of bodies such as the Committee on Climate Change and the NFU. The report covers:
- What climate change is and why it matters;
- Practical recommendations as to how you can transition to net zero;
- How we can help.
Transition your business to net zero emissions
Our Agriculture team has received sustainability training from the world-leading University of Cambridge Institute of Sustainability Leadership. They will work with you to transition your business through:
- Providing discounted lending through our Clean Growth Financing Initiative for a broad range of investments in sustainable agriculture, from renewable energy generation such as solar and wind, to green agri-tech solutions.
- Heavily subsidising tree and hedgerow planting through the Woodland Trust to reduce cost to you by up to 75%.
- Measuring your carbon footprint, using a free carbon calculator tool that is right for you. We can introduce you to either the Cool Farm Tool, the Farm Carbon Toolkit or Agrecalc.
- Providing regular sustainability information sessions with recognised leaders on a wide range of issues related to the low-carbon agenda, from regenerative agriculture to managing your soil health to improving both yield and environmental benefits in the field to help you in your transition.
There are a number of ways in which you can begin your transition to net zero and we have provided information below on some of the key recommendations and highlighted how we can help you achieve net zero:
Steps to net zero
Our ambition is to be the sector’s partner of choice on its transition to a low carbon future. Climate change presents both risks and opportunities, and having supported many generations of farmers up until now, we’re keen to work with you to help finance a greener future, together.
Alongside measuring your carbon footprint, a summary of our recommendations to support the agriculture sector’s transition to net zero include:
Planting trees and hedgerows to sequester carbon
Tree planting and reforestation is key to decarbonising the UK’s agriculture land and increasing the UK’s woodland cover in line with the UK’s transition to net zero. Our partnership with the Woodland Trust offers farms the opportunity to plant trees and hedges at heavily subsidised rates, reducing the cost to you by up to 75%.
Improve productivity and efficiency
There are a number of ways to improve agricultural productivity and efficiency while also reducing your carbon footprint. Reducing nitrous oxide and methane emissions are priorities, via activities such as the use of controlled release fertilisers and urease inhibitors and improving animal health and reducing livestock numbers overall.
Invest in low carbon agri-technology
The adoption of agri-tech solutions is a key enabler of the transition to net zero. From utilising livestock sensors, precision agriculture and hydroponic technology, the solutions support an increase in both yield and productivity. Find out more about lending options available.
Boost renewable energy generation
Boosting renewable energy and the bio-economy to displace greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels is a key part of the NFU’s ambition for achieving net zero. Investment in renewable energy can provide additional income, support the production of organic fertiliser and improve waste management.
Improve soil health
Soils are the second largest carbon sink after our oceans, containing approximately 94% of the total carbon stored in the biosphere. Soil health is therefore hugely important both to preserving soil fertility, and the fight against climate change. Key solutions include maintaining cover crops, minimising tillage and tree planting.
Peatlands are a key part of the UK’s landscape, covering 12% of the UK’s land area. Both upland and lowland peatlands are significant carbon sinks with 57% of the UK’s soil carbon stored in peatland. However, it is estimated that 80% of peatlands are significantly damaged, and so restoring and preserving peatlands is crucial.
Measuring your carbon footprint at farm-level is a critical first step towards your transition to net zero. There are a number of carbon calculator tools on the market which can do this, and different tools will be appropriate for different farms. There are a number of options for carbon calculators, and while each of the carbon calculators are self-serve, we are happy to make introductions to the tool of your choice if that would be helpful.
We offer an introduction to the three market leading tools to support you on this journey:
Farm Carbon Calculator
The Farm Carbon Calculator is free for farmers and gives a numerical and visual estimate of the greenhouse gas emissions across all farming enterprises (using current internationally agreed emission factors) and shows how they might improve with any proposed changes to that farming system. It also uniquely provides an estimate of the amount of carbon sequestration that a farm is achieving.
Agrecalc is free for measurement of your annual footprint and more detailed benchmarking and scenarios start at £59 a year. Agrecalc is a carbon footprint tool designed to identify the level and sources of greenhouse gas emissions by farm, enterprise and product. It allows improvements to be monitored and can help benchmark key performance indicators using an extensive farm database.
Cool Farm Tool
The Cool Farm Tool is free for farmers and is an online calculator that enables farmers to measure their greenhouse gas emissions and understand mitigation options for agricultural production. The Cool Farm Tool is a product footprint tool, not a whole farm tool. It is used by many food companies to measure emissions, such as Unilever.