New industry network launched to tackle the carbon footprint of crop production

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Sponsors sought from the food and farming industry to fund research into achieving net zero in agriculture

Launching in July 2021, a new network  named  YEN Zero  will bring together the entire  food  supply chain, from food and drink manufacturers and supermarkets to fertiliser companies and growers, to meet the industry’s target of achieving net-zero emissions by 2040.   The network is a new initiative by researchers from ADAS, the largest independent environmental and agricultural consultancy in the UK.

Calculating crop carbon footprints

The production of  arable crops,  including  cereals and oilseeds, contributes to farm greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, primarily  through the use of  artificial nitrogen fertilisers and cultivation choices. Currently, there is no standard for measuring GHG emissions in crop production, which makes it difficult for those further up the supply chain to quantify the agricultural contribution to their total emissions. 

YEN Zero will undertake the analysis and benchmarking of combinable crop carbon footprints on a per-field basis  with the near-future aspiration of growing this to carbon accounting on a whole-farm scale.

This benchmarking of crop GHG intensities will  enable fair and easy comparison of emissions among farms, fields and crops. From there,  it  will be  possible  to see what  agronomic practices are driving these emissions and test which  mitigation  strategies  work best  on farms.  Successful strategies will then be shared  with  members of  the network.  Researchers will also work  directly  with growers and their supporters to help  optimise their production with reduced inputs. 

The network will create a space where:

  • Knowledge can be shared around key net-zero  topics.  
  • Metrics for calculating cropping carbon footprints can be agreed to create consensus across the industry.
  • Mitigation strategies can be communicated and tested on farm to find out “what  works”. 

Discussion workshops

From July 2021,  ADAS researchers will host a series of workshops for  YEN Zero members to gain and share knowledge regarding key net-zero issues. These workshops  will be run as open forums addressing issues  such as soil carbon sequestration potential , effective mitigation strategies and methodologies for calculating cropping carbon footprints.

How can you get involved

A number of  organisations  are currently  engaging  in YEN Zero; these include  AHDB , Defra , Syngenta,  Bayer, Origin Fertilisers, Hutchinsons, Nestlé, Anglian Water, John Fergus & Co and Glenmorangie.  By becoming sponsors of  YEN Zero, organisations can demonstrate that they are taking part in  bottom-up  research making strides to achieve net zero in agriculture.  

“We are really excited to have such strong support from organisations across the supply chain to bring our YEN approach to tackling carbon emissions. By working together, we can develop a shared understanding of the issues, and share ideas and experience of ‘what works’ for the industry’s journey towards net zero,” said Daniel Kindred, Head of Agronomics, ADAS.

The network is still  looking for organisations that would like to  join the  YEN Zero  initiative.  If you would like to find out more about joining  as a  sponsor  of the  network,  then please  contact  christina.baxter@adas.co.uk or visit our website https://www.yen.adas.co.uk/projects/yen-zero.

We would like to acknowledge Innovate  UK funding which made the  initiation of this network possible.

 

 

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About Author

Editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is an avid follower of Stoke City.