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Farming for a better climate
A new action plan to help cut greenhouse gas emissions from across the agricultural sector was launched today.
The five-point plan will help farmers increase productivity and tackle climate change.
Farming for a Better Climate (FBC) is funded by the Scottish Government and a dedicated website, hosted by the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC), will offer advice on cost-effective ways to benefit business and the environment.
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, Richard Lochhead said:
"Our farmers can lead the fight against climate change and not only help our environment but help their businesses at the same time. By adopting these five simple steps, farming will become part of the solution to climate change.
"Their dependency on the environment puts farmers on the front line and if expected changes to weather patterns are not considered now it could spell disaster for the industry in future.
"Scotland has some of the most ambitious climate change legislation in the world and there has already been a great deal of innovation within the farming sector. I am confident that these practical cost-effective measures will be welcomed.
"Farmers getting involved will not only help agriculture thrive they will be creating a healthier climate - a win-win situation for us all."
Graham Kerr, who leads SAC's Farming for a Better Climate programme said:
"We are delighted to support the Scottish Government in this initiative. This is an issue that challenges us all and land managers can play their part in reducing carbon emissions. Through this programme all parts of SAC are committed to helping both industry and policy makers. We hope to increase their knowledge of climate change and the practical steps that can be taken to reduce their carbon footprint and adapt to Scotland's changing climate."
Phantassie and Garvald Mains Farms are already reaping the benefits of Farming for a Better Climate. Situated in a Nitrate Vulnerable Zone, farmers Gavin and Willie Hamilton had begun noticing the effects climate change was having on their business. They now make many decisions based on energy efficiency, use detailed crop monitoring to ensure optimal irrigation, use a groundsource heat pump and are considering the installation of a wind turbine. More information can be found on the FBC web site.
Ruchlaw Produce Company, of Dunbar, has secured a grant of £560,308 from Rural Priorities - part of the Scotland Rural Development Programme - to convert waste from its pig farming operation into electricity. This funding represents 36 per cent of the overall cost and the electricity will be used to power the operation and halve the smell associated with the pig farm.
The business, which employs 45 people will also be using an anaerobic digester to convert pig slurry into methane and carbon dioxide. The methane will then be pumped into a biogas plant to generate electricity and hot water for heating systems throughout the plant.
The Farming for a Better Climate (FBC) website was developed by the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) and is at:
The five key FBC action areas are:
- Using energy and fuels efficiently
- Developing renewable energy
- Locking carbon into the soil and vegetation
- Optimising the application of fertilisers and manures
- Optimising livestock management and storage of waste
The action areas are based on the following principles:
- Ensuring that resources used in farm businesses are put to the best possible use
- Taking the most cost effective steps first
- Minimising waste
- Developing new business opportunities where these could help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
A range of stakeholder seminars will take place later this year and the Scottish Government will be establishing an external stakeholder group to consider agriculture and climate change. The group will act as a sounding board for advice and give input on how to support the sector in reducing avoidable greenhouse gas emissions, balanced with the need to continue sustainable food production. Membership will be inclusive of all key interests as this is a challenging and complex area.
A series of detailed, downloadable guidance leaflets has been developed to underpin each FBC mitigation measure.
Case studies will be published on the website providing credible, practical examples of FBC in practice.
FBC also signposts to grant funding support. The SRDP includes a range of measures which can be used to help farmers understand and adapt to climate change. Under Rural Development Contracts, farmers can apply for grants of up to 50 per cent towards the cost of modernisation, restructuring, installation of renewable energy generation or other capital investments, as well as 75 per cent grants for associated training.
Taking into account emissions from agriculture and agricultural related land use, emissions from the sector are estimated at around 20 per cent of Scotland's total emissions.
The Climate Change (Scotland) Act sets a mandatory target of at least an 80 per cent cut in emissions by 2050 and includes: all internationally recognised greenhouse gases; emissions from international aviation and shipping; an interim target of at last 42 per cent for 2020; and a framework of annual targets to drive early action.