Accurate carbon accounting is now being demanded by supply chains, governments, and financial institutions to explain, and improve, the carbon footprints of land use and food.
Agrecalc is a farm carbon calculator, developed by SAC Consulting in response to the growing need for a simple-to-use, accurate and science-driven carbon audit tool. It takes farmers beyond a simple tick box tool, to one that assesses all the farm practices and looks at layers of change – from the simple to the more complex – to improve their efficiencies by changes to management practices.
The mission of the tool is to assess what is technically feasible to get a farm, or supply chain, to lower carbon emissions, and the ultimate goal of net zero, where viable. We’ve always viewed carbon as part of accounting and of farm efficiency calculations, and it’s increasingly being seen as a good discipline for business.
Typically, most farms can attain the first 10-15% of carbon reduction with changes in practices, such as growing more legumes, sampling manures and soils to reduce fertiliser use, or implementing paddock grazing. The next level of 10-15% improvement should be feasible from more significant investments such as new machinery or systems’ changes, whilst achieving 30-40% reduction is likely to require more drastic measures such as afforestation.
Agrecalc is being used by over 2,500 businesses or institutions, including retailers and their supply chains, corporate farming businesses including Grosvenor Farms, and by governments to track payments schemes, such as the Scottish Government’s Beef Efficiency Scheme and similar schemes for Farming Connect Wales.
Grosvenor Farms had been carbon auditing their dairy units for several years, and despite many improvements to the system, they hadn’t seen much improvement in their carbon scores.
We ran their information through Agrecalc and found that they had, in fact, reduced their carbon emissions by 16% per litre of milk produced. They did this through a range of methods, including improved genetics, using sexed semen to produce more beef cross calves, and improvements to housing and nutrition. We have since helped their team to develop a plan to take their business to the next level of carbon reduction.
Financial institutions are also using the tool to support both their efficiency and environmental agendas with farm clients, and levy boards, including AHDB and QMS, have used it to determine guidance for emissions reduction.
The latest addition to the tool is a soil sequestration module, which has been much anticipated by the industry.
Some of the strongest recent interest in the tool is coming from farmers themselves, as well as the more established supply chain and governments.
What farmers like is that it’s another way to look at their business, it’s a great way to feed their competitive nature and it’s making them examine the nitty-gritty to deliver more profit.
As farm businesses across the country face an uncertain future given changes to payments, as well as pressure on profitability, the aspects we are very clear on are that emissions reduction and improved environmental standards will be at the heart of what farms need to address to secure their future income; both from the market and, likely, from the government too.
Agrecalc is free for farmers to try as a single licence and is very easy to use, taking around one to two hours to input the information.
Companies and institutions pay for the service via a user licence-model, and all profits are invested back into the system to further develop its capabilities and to keep it scientifically up to date.