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A deeper insight into carbon mapping for farmers

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Hutchinsons is one of the UK’s leading providers of agronomic advice and crop inputs, with over 80 years of crop-production experience across the full range of UK crops. Hutchinsons offers comprehensive and flexible advice to suit every customer’s needs, from day-to-day crop management decisions and agronomy advice to longer-term strategic business aims and planning.

Hutchinsons provide specialist advice on environmental services, carbon measurement, mapping and management, practical precision farming, soil health and farm business management. The unique Helix Project evaluates technologies, linking them with knowledge and practical advice to deliver sustainable farming for growers to maximise profits and improve returns, both financially and environmentally. Technology from Omnia helps manage land and crops using data layers to allow visualisation of high and low performing areas, costs of production and the ability to create variable rate seed, nutrition or crop protection plans quickly and easily.

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As an industry, UK farming is in a unique and enviable position to make positive changes to carbon levels, which most other industries are not able to do.

Matt Ward, Hutchinsons Services Manager, shares his views on how growers can embrace this opportunity.

It’s crucial that we move away from seeing carbon footprinting as a burden or simply a tick-box exercise and see that it is beneficial – as a proxy measurement for efficiency and profitability of a farm as well as simply a measure of waste.

It’s clear that there are benefits to having a negative carbon balance such as lower input costs.

A reduced carbon footprint can be achieved through the use of technologies resulting in more efficient fertiliser use, better soil management or considering the energy used in the business, so it’s a win-win on all levels.

Organic Carbon Map

Organic Carbon Map © Omnia

But to manage carbon it has to be measured – and this can now be done using TerraMap Carbon the first ever carbon mapping service to provide the most accurate baseline measurement of both organic and active carbon in the soil and is now available to UK farmers.

TerraMap Carbon is available as a standard or premium service. The standard service maps a total of 17 micronutrients soil type and pH layers that now also includes total organic carbon in terms of % carbon and tonnes/ha.

The premium service maps 27 layers which includes a wider range of micronutrients than those in the standard service, and also cation exchange, and now both total organic and active carbon percentage and tonnes/ha – that is the % of carbon that’s active in the soil.

Active Carbon Map

Active Carbon Map © Omnia

Results from TerraMap Carbon can be used to create carbon maps within Omnia which aligns field carbon measurements against the carbon costs of different machinery operations for that field incorporating detailed calculations for power, width, work rate and fuel, all of which are generated using data from the Farm Carbon Toolkit.

It is possible to create different rotation scenarios from types of cropping and variety to stewardship and management practices and see the projected CO2 impact and financial performance for each scenario.

For example, it might be more beneficial to put more land into ELM and sequester more carbon this way than to replace or change machinery.

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