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Why Do We Need To Manage Carbon Emissions?

Forest view

Managing Carbon Emissions

Agriculture is a significant contributor to global climate change through the net release of greenhouse gases (GHGs) such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous dioxide. Carbon emissions is the collective term for the release of these gases.

At the farm level, these emissions arise from the use of fossil fuels and manufactured inputs, the by-products of animal digestion, the cultivation of soils and the loss of natural vegetation and forests as carbon sinks.

Beyond the farm gate, agri-food chains also emit carbon through haulage, processing, packaging and waste management.

At the same time, certain agricultural practices can reduce the impact of greenhouse gas emissions, e.g. by promoting carbon accumulation in soils.

Carbon footprinting involves measuring the overall amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases associated with an activity or a product throughout its life cycle.  The boundaries of this measurement must be defined, e.g. to the farm gate or to the final customer.

Lowering carbon emissions can benefit business by reducing costs and, in some cases, improving marketing and increasing sales.

SRUC can help farmers, companies or whole supply chains in the food and land-based industries to assess the carbon footprint of their products or services.

Following assessment of the carbon footprint, SRUC can assist farmers, companies, supply chains and networks develop strategies for lowering carbon emissions.

SRUC Carbon Management Credentials

SRUC’s research staff are actively involved in the measurement and modelling of greenhouse gas emissions associated with agricultural activities. Our work has concentrated on emissions of these gases from soils and vegetation in farmed environments. SRUC has expertise in the measurement of nitrous dioxide from soils, one of the most potent greenhouse gases.  SRUC are also undertaking measurements of methane emissions directly from animals.

A strong science base ensures SRUC is well placed to undertake consultancy on the impact of agriculture on climate change and the steps that farmers can take to reduce emissions. Projects undertaken have so far encompassed a wide range of agricultural systems including arable and livestock along with both conventional and organic farming practices.

SRUC Carbon Management Services

SRUC has developed the tools necessary to map and record carbon emissions on-farm using existing financial and management records - on a per hectare and per kilogramme of output basis.

SRUC, in conjunction with partners where necessary, is also able to undertake whole chain assessments of food products and biofuels from field to final consumer.

Benefits Of Using SRUC

  • Scientific integrity matched to practical know how and business expertise
  • A team of specialist business consultants working closely with agricultural consultants on the ground, in-house researchers and outside experts, where necessary, to deliver a complete package
  • SRUC’s network of consultants across Scotland and the North of England ensures cost-effective collection of farm and business data
  • Reducing GHG emissions can lead to greater efficiencies and costs savings. SRUC consultants are experts in improving farm performance

Contact SRUC For Independent Expertise In

  • Energy auditing
  • Carbon footprinting of farm and off-farm activities
  • Advice on steps to reduce carbon emissions and increase profits
  • Marketing advice to capitalise on green credentials

Prof Bob Rees

Professor of Agriculture & Climate Change / Head of Carbon Management Centre

Address: Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), Peter Wilson Building, Kings Buildings, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JG.

Telephone: 0131 535 4365


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