Net Zero Growth Plan and the Carbon Budget Delivery Plan
Decarbonising agricultural emissions to create a net-zero emission economy by 2050 is detailed in new Government Plans. The Net Zero Growth Plan sets out how to meet net zero, while supporting economic growth and prosperity in the UK, published on 6th April 2023.
Farming is one sector where some residual emissions are expected because some aspects of farming, such as raising animals or using fertiliser, have unavoidable emissions. These activities need to continue whilst reducing emissions at the same time, in a way that supports thriving farm businesses and maintains food production at current levels.
To achieve this objective, a range of measures that can help decarbonise agricultural emissions are set out in the Carbon Budget Delivery Plan, published on 30th March 2023, These measures can be found on page 89 of the document.
The measures build on the progress that farmers have already made. Since 1990, agricultural emissions have reduced by 12%. The dairy sector reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 12% between 2000 and 2020, while still increasing milk production by 11% with 21% fewer cows.
Farmers will be important in reducing and sequestering emissions from the land use sector including through tree planting, peatland restoration and agroforestry. Cover-crops can help support the long-term foundations of a healthy environment and food production. A combination of incentives, clear and well enforced rules and supporting market driven innovations will be needed to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions of this sector. The full range of one-off and ongoing payments can be found on Funding for Farmers and Land Managers on GOV.UK.
The incentives for several of those measures are covered through the Sustainable Farming Incentive and Countryside Stewardship. For example introducing grass-legume mixtures in environmental land management update.
Farming Investment Fund providing funding towards slurry covers.
Farming Innovation Programme precision feeding technology.
The scale of the challenge requires a step change in investment and the intention is that farmers and land managers can earn income from public sources like our environmental land management schemes but also attract greater finance from the private sector for sequestering carbon, improving water quality, and increasing biodiversity.
The Carbon Budget Delivery Plan
The Carbon Budget Delivery Plan contains the full list of proposals and policies including the name, description and, where possible, the quantified savings in Carbon Budgets 4, 5 and 6 (covering 2023-27, 2028-32 and 2033-37 respectively).
Farmers’ efforts are vital to reducing emissions from the wider land use sector. An example of this is through introducing agroforestry systems and the ambition to introduce agroforestry systems on 10% of arable land by 2050.This is an important step for sequestering carbon, agroforestry systems can provide multiple benefits including shade and shelter for livestock and protection against flood risk.
An agroforestry standard will be in the Sustainable Farming Incentive in 2024 so that farmers can be paid for introducing agroforestry systems.
Ruminant livestock and their wastes are the leading causes of farm emissions, but feed additives with methane inhibiting properties have the potential to reduce some of these emissions, especially from farm systems encompassing periods of housing for cattle.
High efficacy methane suppressing products entering the UK market from 2025 will develop the link between industry and government to maximise uptake of such products for suitable cattle farm systems at pace, through a phased approach.
The Net Zero Growth Plan, sets out ambitions to mandate the introduction of products with proven safety and efficacy in compound feeds for cattle as soon as possible in England.
In the Net Zero Growth Plan there is going to be a harmonised approach to carbon audits, as a lot of different tools and approaches can be confusing. Defra will set out how it intends to support farmers with carbon auditing by 2024.This important step will demonstrate carbon savings and unlock private finance opportunities to complement public funding.
As part of the Future Farming Resilience Fund (FFRF), you can sign up to have a farm assessment and a NIAB, Savills or AKC farm consultant can help you navigate the funds available and how to apply, they are funded by the government to help secure the future of your farming business.
Visit the NIAB Future Farming Resilience Fund Website for more information: