Farm Net Zero – We are a monitor farm

Mob grazing shorthorn cattle

Farm Net Zero is a major project from the farming community in Cornwall to show the contribution that agriculture can make to achieving ‘Net Zero’.

The project is working with Duchy College Rural Business School, the Farm Carbon Toolkit, Westcountry Rivers Trust, Innovation for Agriculture and Just Farmers and is managed by Cornwall College.

The project is digging deeper into soil carbon assessments which will enable a greater understanding of the potential for farms to provide a climate solution and understand which land management practices make a difference.

Farm Net Zero have recruited 40 monitor farms across Cornwall and we were delighted to be given the opportunity to join the project. Each farm is baselined in terms of their carbon footprint and their soil carbon levels.

The carbon footprint is calculated by completing the Farm Carbon Toolkit ‘Carbon Calculator’ which Will did a few months ago at Duchy College. This involves inputting lots of data regarding all the inputs into the farm such as diesel, packaging, fertiliser etc plus lots of data about the farm such as acreage of permanent pastures, herbal leys, woodland and hedgerows. To see more about the calculator you can watch this video

The soil carbon levels are calculated by taking soil samples from different areas of the farm. We should be having our soil sampled very soon when the weather warms up a little! We will be taking samples from across the farm to get a good picture. For anyone who has visited Treway you will have seen that we are essentially ‘hill farmers’ as lots of our land is rather steep and slopes down to some very low lying land that we have next to the river Fal. We have areas which we have planted in Herbal Leys which are a mixture of grasses, legumes and herbs with much deeper root systems. It will be very interesting to see how the different areas of the farm match up. The soil will be tested annually for structure, worm numbers, aggregate stability and infiltration.

We will be working with the project team to improve our soil health and carbon sequestration.

The results from the 40 monitor farms will hopefully show variation and trends over time. It is hoped that regular assessments of carbon footprints will show where emission reductions are possible with improved soil health.

By using regenerative farming practices and planned grazing methods farming can certainly be part of the solution to the climate crisis.