Did you know that the carbon foot print attributed to UK agriculture includes not only the CO2 released during production of food but also the CO2 released by its consumption?
The fact is that the CO2 removed from the atmosphere by crop green leaves is ignored by the calculations. It is assumed for example that the carbon dioxide captured by the green leaves of a potato plant and stored in the potato will be released back to the atmosphere when the potato is eaten, and should therefore not be included in the calculations. A new report by a consortium of Scottish scientists and consultants questions this assumption (download a free copy at www.cplan.org.uk ).
The report also highlights a mixed livestock farm (70 cows and 650 sheep) within the Cairngorm National Park, Scotland which grew 116 tonnes of barley. Assuming harvest moisture content of 15% and a carbon content of 45% this equates to 43 tonnes of carbon removed from the atmosphere. With this method of calculating farm scale GHG budgets, CO2 fixed in the cereal crop alone would reduce the total farm GHG budget by 16%. If agreed methodology was available to estimate the contribution of grass the GHG account for the farm would fall even further.
"Agriculture has been given a very bad press recently but the fact that the 'farting cow' is fuelled with renewable carbon appears to have been totally ignored by the media" reported Jan Dick a co-author of the report.
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