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Stackyard News Nov 07

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Scottish Farmers Co-ops to Help Tackle Climate Change

A benchmark survey carried out by SAOS as part of a Carbon Trust Networks project has established that farmers can cut their carbon footprint and save money.

The survey found that while many farmers will ensure the correct volume of fertiliser is spread on field, the spread pattern itself may not have been checked.

Kuhn Axis

The five farmer co-operatives involved in the project are: Borders Machinery Ring, Scottish Agronomy, North Highland Products, HBS Ring and Tayforth Machinery Ring.

The benchmark survey found that the average carbon dioxide (CO2) Greenhouse gases are produced from three main sources on a farm: Methane, from livestock; nitrous oxide, produced through the use of mineral fertiliser and animal manures; CO2 is produced by burning fossil fuels and using electricity. Methane and nitrous oxide are powerful greenhouse gases. 1 kg of methane has the equivalent warming effect of 26 kgs of CO2 and 1kg of nitrous oxide has the equivalent warming effect of 296 kgs of CO2. emissions across the 10 farms surveyed was 3.85 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per hectare. The outputs varied enormously from farm to farm depending upon the overall output and the different enterprises. The main sources of emissions were attributed to the methane produced from livestock, nitrous oxide produced through the use of mineral fertiliser and animal manures, and CO2 from burning fossil fuels and using electricity.

Hamish Walls, of SAOS, commented: “The benchmark survey allows us to see where carbon emission reductions can be made on farms, simultaneously providing financial benefits for the business. The survey also found that many farmers are very keen to understand how this can be achieved, which is what the Carbon Trust Networks project is all about.”

A prime example is the use of fertiliser. The survey found that while many farmers will ensure the correct volume of fertiliser is spread on field, the spread pattern itself may not have been checked. A simple test can find the optimum spread pattern, ensuring maximum use of fertiliser applied and therefore reduced nitrous oxide emissions. As well as making a contribution to reducing Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions, this also delivers a cost savings to farmers.

John Stocks, Manager, Carbon Trust Scotland, added, “The Carbon Trust’s role is to help all businesses reduce their carbon emissions. The agricultural sector is an important part of the Scottish economy and therefore we are delighted to be funding this project being run by SAOS that will help farmers reduce carbon dioxide emissions and deliver cost savings.”

To help farmers understand more about carbon management alongside the five farmer co-operative partners, SAOS will be holding a series of lunchtime seminars in January 2008, supported by the Carbon Trust Scotland. These seminars will give farmers the opportunity to calculate their own carbon footprint using a web-based calculator, as well as receive some environmental and money saving information.




(The Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society) is the association of Scotland’s farmers’ co-ops and farmer-owned businesses, and provides development advice and consultancy services to its 80 members, to groups of farmers interested in co-operating, and to companies in Scotland’s food and drink marketing chains. The turnover of SAOS’ member businesses in 2006 was £1.4 billion. SAOS’ work is supported by the Scottish Government. The Chairman is Gareth Baird, who farms near Kelso.

The Carbon Trust

The Carbon Trust is a private company set up by government in response to the threat of climate change, to accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy. The Carbon Trust works with UK business and the public sector to create practical business-focused solutions through its external work in five complementary areas: insights, solutions, innovations, enterprises and investments. Together these help to explain, deliver, develop, create and finance low carbon enterprise.

The Carbon Trust is funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR), the Scottish Government, the Welsh Assembly Government and Invest Northern Ireland.
· For more information on the Carbon Trust visit or call the Carbon Trust Advice Line on 0800 085 2005.

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