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Arran could help serve as a blueprint for Scottish agriculture to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
Farmers on the island are working together to try to reduce their carbon footprint using AgreCalc – an SAC Consulting tool to benchmark and measure methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions.
The Soil Association Scotland-led Rural Innovation Support Service (RISS) group of 15 farmers and affiliates is backed by Alexander Pirie of SAC Consulting, part of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC).
Mr Pirie and one of Net Zero Arran’s farmers, David Henderson, will be among the speakers in a free online RISS workshop – Futureproof your Farm – on Wednesday May 20. The workshop is designed to help farmers develop business ideas in response to COVID-19 and climate change.
Arran features a broad range of diverse farmland, including rolling hills, rugged moorland and quality in-bye for grassland and cereal production. At 166 square miles, it is also host to many facets of the broader Scottish agricultural industry, including beef and sheep farming, cropping, dairying, forestry and a collection of small-scale fruit and vegetable units.
Mr Henderson farms beef and sheep at Kilpatrick Farm. He said: ‘I have done our carbon audits and our emissions were good partly due to our stocking rates. But I’m in the group to learn. We know future farm programmes will be based around carbon footprints, whether we like it or not, so the question is, how do we adapt? Farmers need to work together more, and be more open about the good and the bad.’
Mr Pirie said: ‘My hope is we can reduce the carbon footprint of the island if we can quantify it and that by identifying common areas for improvement, we can take a collaborative approach.
‘By tackling issues around farm efficiency and best practice as well as the environment and climate change, with an emphasis on building strong local community engagement, Arran could contribute is some small way to the solution for Scotland.
‘This is a broad project, building and expanding on data and processes from the Beef Efficiency Scheme and the Farming for a Better Climate Initiative and gives us scope to involve Taste of Arran or the local Eco Savvy, for example. We’re also looking at the link between farm businesses, processors and retailers. RISS has given me the scope to get everyone in the room.’
As well as Net Zero Arran, the online workshop will hear from Scottish Apples’ Roger Howison, with facilitator Amanda Brown of the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society and Colleen McCulloch of RISS.
The online workshop, Futureproof your Farm: How to adapt your farm business to the COVID-19 and climate change crises, takes place on Wednesday May 20 from 9.30am to 11.30am. Register at https://bit.ly/FutureproofYourFarm
David Henderson of Kilpatrick Farm will speak at online workshop. NO_B19farm01