Nitrogen tool part of major upgrade to Farm Carbon Calculator

A new tool for measuring nitrogen balance has been added to the Farm Carbon Calculator as part of a major upgrade, enabling farmers and growers to undertake a more detailed analysis of their farm systems.

Nitrogen (N) inputs covered by the new module include biological fixation, synthetic fertilisers and organic manures, as well as purchased livestock and animal feeds.

The N output is calculated from in-field N2O emissions as well as crops, milk and livestock sold, while an N balance calculation provides an overview of the net change of nitrogen over the year.

See also: How do three main farm carbon calculators compare?

Farm Carbon Toolkit, which owns and runs the free calculator, has received £8,200 of funding from environmental group WWF and is working with the Soil Association to develop the nitrogen tool.

The calculator has been running for more than 10 years, to help farmers measure the carbon footprint of their business and identify ways to reduce emissions.

Other elements of the upgrade include:

  • Fully revised emissions data using the latest research on fuels, livestock, fertilisers, crops and materials              
  • New user features including additional categories for sprays, animal bedding and improved recording for crop yields, and more options for animal feed blends
  • Differentiating between spring and autumn spreading of organic manures
  • Reports now provide emissions results in Scopes 1, 2 and 3, with separate results for carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.

Oliver Kynaston, Farm Carbon Calculator manager, said: “We’ve paid particular attention to reviewing and updating the factors that make up the biggest fraction of most farms’ emissions – synthetic inputs, livestock and fuels.”

Mr Kynaston said the nitrogen tool would offer another lens for farmers to view the efficiency and productivity of their business.

Liz Bowles, Soil Association director, added: “The addition of the nitrogen module is incredibly useful for farmers, as it will give them a better understanding of their farm nitrogen balance.

“This is becoming ever more important in the context of the urgent need to reduce reliance on artificial N sources and hence overall farm emissions.

“By incorporating the latest science, these upgrades will allow farmers to calculate their carbon footprint with greater degrees of accuracy, which is really welcome.”

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