Our Carbon Footprint

One of the challenges for farmers over the next few years will be how they adapt their businesses to Climate Change. Farming contributes 8% of the UK's Greenhouse Gas emissions including about 39% of methane emissions (largely produced from animals), about 67% of nitrous oxide emissions (fertiliser) and 1% of carbon dioxide emissions.

A changing climate presents a number of opportunities and challenges for farmers and wildlife. In order to understand Hope Farm's impact on the climate the RSPB has commissioned the University of East Anglia and Lawrence Gould, a specialist farm business company to assess our Carbon footprint.

So what have we learnt from this report? Three key findings to emerge are

1) The biggest contribution to our farm carbon footprint arise from the fertiliser we apply to grow the crop. Emissions are produced during the manufacture and application of the fertiliser.

2) The greenhouse gas estimates per tonne of crop are higher for oilseed rape, than winter wheat. Spring beans have the lowest estimate.

3) Environmental options, such as grass margins, wild bird cover and nectar mixtures, placed to help the wildlife are able to store carbon. Further work is required to ascertain how effective each option is.

Over the next few months, the RSPB will use the report to examine how we can adapt our farming operations to reduce the footprint of the farm whilst maintaining high yields. This will be the key challenge for all farmers.


A quite time pre-harvest. The last fungicide application was applied to the wheat last week. Now we are waiting patiently for harvest, which should start in about a month. First crop to be harvested will be the oilseed rape, followed by the wheat and finally the spring beans in early September.
  • I have had the following comment sent to me with regard to the Carbon Footprint work " inevitably, that 'it is the oil based fertiliser what does it!' The state of agri land is quite frankly poor. Any consideration/research being given to how to change that with more natural inputs?  The oil WILL run out and even before it does, it is going to get ever more costly."

    In answer to this

    This is going to be the chief challenge for all farmers & governments and has been highlighted by the recent debate around food security: how can you produce more food using significantly fewer resources. Conventional inputs rely on oil and there will need to be a significant reduction in their reliance in the future. At Hope Farm we will be using the results of the Carbon Footprint work to identify what steps and research are required to grow profitable food whilst increasing biodiversity and decreasing our environmental footprint. It also raises a debate around whether this can only be done using organic systems or could it be achieved through significantly lower input conventional farming.

    Chris Bailey Farmland Project Manager