As supermarkets and brands look to reduce their carbon footprints across their supply chains, carbon certification schemes are becoming increasingly important. Regenerative farmer Thomas Gent found Agreena’s carbon program so easy to use that he has become the UK manager, sharing his experiences of using carbon certification tools with other farmers.
Thomas is a speaker at the event ‘Agri-Tech and ELMs – the Innovation Enablers’ on 22nd March 2022.
Thomas is the fourth generation on the family farm located on the Cambridgeshire border, which adopted minimum tillage about 13 years ago. Thomas’ aim is to get the farm profitable without the need for state support. He has some reservations about the Environmental Land Management scheme, which the UK government is introducing as the basic payments scheme is phased out.
“I am nervous that the new ELMs scheme will focus on environmental improvements over the need to produce food locally in the UK,” says Thomas, who aims to do both.
Carbon certificates provide evidence of best practice
He explains that the carbon certificates, accredited to the internationally recognised ISO14064 GHG standard, can be generated by adopting best practice on the farm, such as reducing tillage, using cover crops and reducing artificial fertilisers – particularly nitrogen.
“I chose Agreena for its simplicity – it is essentially an online carbon calculator. Most of the information required, farmers just know off the top of their head – field, definition, all the soil types, for example – and then you enter your strategy for the next year’s cover crops, that sort of thing.”
“From the data you input, the program does an impact assessment, calculating the carbon impact of those practices. There is an external verification process – and the resulting carbon credits certificates are an asset given directly to the farmer.”
Although currently Agreena uses farm practices as a proxy to measure carbon capture, Thomas is also soil sampling to measure carbon directly. He is investigating soil probes and other technologies that offer this, but has found the measurements too variable so far.
Reward for long term vision
“We know from the science that to make any impact on the soil, consistency is key. For farmers that are already meeting the regenerative goals, one thing they can often improve upon is consistency. On the Agreena scheme farmers are rewarded for consistency, as well as for making improvements to their practice, which is known as ‘additionality’.
“I am not going to turn down government funding if it helps our objectives, but I want to farm profitably without public money – and I think we should be able to do that with better marketing and branding.”
Thomas is joining other farmers at ‘Agri-Tech and ELMs – the Innovation Enablers’ on Tuesday 22nd March at 10:00 am – 4:00 pm at Rothamsted Research.
At this in-person event farmers and advisors involved in these early trials will be sharing their experiences – warts and all – and innovators with potential solutions will be giving quick-fire presentations. Measuring, monitoring and getting paid are all challenges to be discussed at this interactive event.