The C word
Our director, John Smith, shares his thoughts on the hotly debated topic that is climate change…
“Carbon is an amazing atom, it’s everywhere. In its purest form it appears as diamond and graphite and carbon is the magic ingredient of tomorrow’s wonder product, graphene. In combination with hydrogen and or oxygen it surrounds us, in the atmosphere, all plants, all building materials, trees, in fact 18 % of the average human body is carbon.
But what’s gone wrong?
The carbon cycle has lost its equilibrium, more carbon is being released into the atmosphere than is being taken out, or sequestrated, by plants and animals. The result is climate change as the increased levels of both carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere are holding in heat, much like a blanket. This is my understanding of the situation in the most simplistic form.
Agriculture accounts for 10% of UK emissions, and while we are a big part of the problem, farmers have a huge opportunity to play a part in the solution. To do this we need to assess where we are currently…
Our soils have suffered declining levels of organic matter
Our support system is being phased out
Current DEFRA thinking is totally biased towards environmental support
Quote ‘public spending for public gain ‘
Agriculture is identified as part of the problem due to emissions from animals, fertilisers, excessive cultivation’s
What we need is a new initiative, a combination of science from a body such as the AHDB, a recognition of the connects between cropping and CO2 intake, some support from government with a scheme which recognises and rewards carbon sequestration and
soil improvement, a huge PR push from our representatives at the NFU and CLA and of course some enthusiasm and excitement from ourselves.
As an industry we would all potentially benefit, horn or corn. Talking of horn, if cows and sheep convert the carbon in grass into carbon dioxide and methane what happens with our friends who just eat beans and nuts?
Building up soil carbon and organic matter is purported to be key to achieving higher yields with less inputs, so how about encouraging these practices with ‘carbon credits’
much like they are already doing in Australia and Kenya. Rather than penalising with
a ‘carbon tax’ it would be encouraging better practices for the benefit of the environment and the farmer.
Much is already changing, soil is not being cultivated so aggressively, cover and catch crops for the winter are becoming more commonplace, there is renewed recognition that levels of organic materials are important.
What is missing is the recognition of what farmers are doing and could do to help with climate change for the benefit of every single person in the country.”