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Less than half of farmers in UK thinking about emissions

Staff Writer |
The first results of the government’s Farm Practices Survey in Defra’s Agricultural Statistics and Climate Change report, show less than half of the 2,000 farmers surveyed are considering emissions in the land management decisions they make.

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The survey, conducted in February, included livestock and crop farmers and found that large farms were taking more action on climate changing emissions than smaller holdings.

Only 48% of farmers attached any importance to greenhouse gas emissions in decisions on their land, crops and livestock, compared to 52% in 2015.

Of those who said they were taking action to reduce emissions, most gave increasing energy efficiency, recycling waste materials and improving the accuracy of nitrogen fertiliser applications as examples.

As has been the case for the last few years (the emissions survey has only been running since 2013), the main motivation for adopting any strategies to reduce emissions was that farmers considered it good business practice.

However, overall most farmers (51%) disagreed that reducing greenhouse gas emissions from a holding would improve profitability.

At 9%, the number of farmers who considered taking action on climate changing GHG emissions to be “very important” was equal to those who thought their farms did not produce any greenhouse gasses whatsoever.

In fact, almost half of those not taking any action (and 30% of the total number questioned) deemed it unnecessary to do so, with significant numbers reporting that they aren’t taking further action on emissions because they feel they’ve done all they can, or that there is a lack of information available.

Worldwide, farm emissions make up about 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions from human activity.

In the UK, farming accounts for about 9% of emissions, but government advisors at the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) have noted that “There is no indication that reductions [emissions] have been driven [by] changes in farming practice” and warned “The voluntary nature of the industry-led GHG Action Plan to reduce emissions in this sector and the lack of effective monitoring do not provide confidence of future abatement.”

Even so, Defra believes that it will be possible to achieve a ten percent reduction in emissions from farming by 2020.

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