CARBON benchmarking is
a process that allows farm
businesses to gain an under-standing of their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These are comparable across different years and between businesses, provided that the same calculation method is used.
Interest amongst farmers to dev-elop their understanding of GHG emissions has grown significantly, particularly in light of recent legislation and policy proposals that focus on improving environmental sustainability.
The College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) has been at the forefront of knowledge transfer to farmers and wider industry on this subject. This commenced with the establishment of a pilot benchmarking project involving par-
ticipants in Environmental Busin-
ess Development Groups (EBDGs). In January 2021, the opportunity to participate in carbon bench-marking was opened to all farmers participating in Business Development Groups (BDGs).
By December 2022, over 500 farm businesses with 750 farm enterprises had taken the opportunity to find out more about GHG emissions within their farm enterprises. All of those producers who completed carbon benchmarking also had the opportunity to avail of a feedback meeting with a CAFRE adviser to interpret the results and identify what these mean for their business.
It is important to note that many of the GHG mitigation actions and technologies currently available (see Table 1) also lead to improved financial performance, a key pillar of sustainability.
CAFRE is encouraging those pro-
ducers in BDGs who have not yet availed of the opportunity to complete carbon benchmarking to
get in touch with their adviser. Indeed, for those producers who are already completing a financial benchmarking, the addition of carbon benchmarking will provide an added helpful measure of the environmental sustainability of their farm business.
The results of each producers benchmarking are confidential and will not be shared with anyone without the express permission of the participating farmer.
GHG emissions from farm bus-inesses can be grouped into eight categories. Graphs 1, 2 and 3 highlight the contribution of each category to the total GHG emissions for each enterprise. This has been a useful learning exercise for producers, improving their understanding of the sources of emissions, enabling them to prioritise the most effective mitigation practices and technologies for their farm.
Actions and Technologies: Once a farm business has received its carbon benchmark report, the guidance from advisers is focussed on four key pillars: management of soil nutrients, land, livestock and energy. Every farm is different and there will be range of opportunities to achieve improvements in each individual case. There are many actions that a farmer can implement but the most common are outlined in Table 1.
If you are a CAFRE BDG member and you are interested in gaining an understanding of GHG emissions on your farm, please contact your adviser. All carbon benchmarks are confidential and can only be shared with the express permission of the producer.
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