Farmer Focus: Farm carbon audit confirmed what we knew

With the COP26 conference wrapped up, many nations are expected to keep their promises and deliver what they have set out to achieve.

This is certainly not a time for us as farmers to bury our heads in the sand, in the hope that this “fad” will go away.

About the author

Dafydd Parry Jones
Dafydd Parry Jones and wife Glenys, Machynlleth, Powys, run a closed flock of 750 Texel and Aberfield cross ewes and 70 Hereford cross sucklers cows on 180ha. Their upland organic system uses Hereford bulls, Charollais terminal sires and red clover silage, multi species leys and rotational grazing.
Read more articles by Dafydd Parry Jones

We must be seen to do the right thing for the environment, to gain the respect of the public – our customers. By doing so, we can secure markets for our truly sustainable products long into the future. 

See also: COP26: Five supermarkets vow to halve climate impact by 2030

With all of us doing the little things, we can achieve a great deal more. 

Here on the farm, most of the work during the past few weeks has involved our small contribution for the planet.

Local contractors have fenced more than 1.5km of undulating ground to create new field boundaries and an area for planting more than 3,000 native trees on less productive land. It stretches up the slopes to just under 304m above sea level.

Another autumn job is hedgetrimming. This year I negotiated with my contractor to let the hedges grow, to sequester more carbon and provide better shelter for wildlife.

A carbon audit project has confirmed that our farm is a low carbon emitter. Despite this, it’s been hard to convince politicians and sceptics.

Our farm emitted 5.39kg carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e)/kg of lamb and 8.14kg CO2e/kg of beef – these figures are on a liveweight basis.

Our stock is reared in a natural environment using sustainable methods, and has a lower carbon footprint than the world average. But we can’t rest on our laurels.

Achieving net zero will not be easy for any of us. But it’s a road all of us need to be on. 

The truth is, we must keep doing all the good things we’ve always done, but do them better.  

We need to be open to new techniques, and embrace technology and science, to increase efficiency and reduce our inputs, and our impact on the world, and strive to produce more from less.