Duchy College awarded £1.2 million to spearhead net zero farming project

Duchy College has been awarded over £1.2 million from the Climate Action Fund to run a project tasked with helping the farming community of East Cornwall reach net zero carbon emissions.

The National Lottery-backed project, which will run for five years, is called ‘Farm Net Zero’ and will see a number of organisations work alongside the college.

Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture have been in the spotlight in recent years, with the UK government committing to moving the country to net zero emissions by 2050 – and the National Farmers’ Union setting the agriculture industry the challenge of reaching the same goal by 2040.

Alex Bebbington, project officer at Duchy College’s Rural Business School, said:

“Farm Net Zero is an exciting opportunity for farmers to lead the development of net zero practices at this important time for agriculture and society as a whole.

“There is a lot of valuable work going on in this sector and we look forward to bringing the community together to share this knowledge.”

Managing Farm Net Zero

Duchy College’s Rural Business School, part of The Cornwall College Group, will be responsible for the overall management of Farm Net Zero.

The project will see a close partnership between leading local and national farming organisations, including the Farm Carbon Toolkit, Westcountry Rivers Trust, the Soil Association, Innovation for Agriculture and Just Farmers.

Becky Willson, project manager for Farm Carbon Toolkit, commented: “The Farm Net Zero is a fantastic opportunity to work with farmers to develop practical solutions on achieving Net Zero.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and building soil health can be complicated and multi-faceted, but through this project we will be able to work together to showcase the fantastic practices that farmers are already doing, and inspire others to take part and meet the challenge head on.

Activities throughout the project will include an annual ‘soil sampling’ exercise and ‘carbon foot-printing’ on 40 monitor farms.

Three demonstration farms to act as examples of how to reach net zero will also be developed and the venture will see field labs and citizen science projects established alongside events and workshops to encourage learning and discussion in the farming and wider communities of East Cornwall.