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Farmers in Herefordshire share what’s possible in their mission to cut carbon

Tuesday 3 October 2023 2.25pm

A new innovative programme of farm carbon audits – part of Herefordshire’s Greener Footprints initiative – is helping farmers in Herefordshire discover and share what’s possible in their mission to cut carbon and remain competitive. At a special event in September, hosted by the county council, they heard how early results not only show how well they’re performing compared to other areas of England, but what is possible in the future.

There are still a small number of audits available for farms in Herefordshire – to register your interest contact:

As a group of farmers toured around Lower Blakemere Farm in Herefordshire late last month, farmer Phil Gorringe explained they’d provided data over a two-year period for a farm audit and are already seeing the benefits of the actions that came out of the exercise. By improving soil organic matter by just 0.2 per cent across all land – for example by reducing soil disturbance, using cover crops, preventing run off – they could in the future make the business carbon neutral, said Gorringe.  "We had to be realistic about the time it was going to take to turn things around, but the toolkits we've been offered have showed us what's possible."

In a strategic campaign to understand where farms can cut carbon emissions and become more sustainable, a programme of energy audits have been embraced by a diverse mix of farms (regenerative, classic family farms, cross-sector enterprises and more) to extrapolate facts and provide a fair picture of what's going on in the county, and so help the sector discover and share with others where savings can be made.

The early results have been both inspiring, showing total product emissions in Herefordshire are much lower than the UK average, farms sitting in and around the top 25 per cent. They’re also hugely motivating, showing the change that’s possible to sustain the county’s farms. The county council said they hope to see all farms in Herefordshire using a common methodology by 2030, benefiting from what the audits are demonstrating and exploring what they might change on their land.

"We are really encouraged by the efficiencies being highlighted," says Ian Howie, a retired farmer, industry commentator and member of the Council's Climate and Nature Partnership Board. "Herefordshire is a county that's farmed well but its farmers know, too, that there are always things they can do to improve their way of working, to become more competitive, and to give their customers confidence in their commitment to the environment."