Calls for a single, harmonised farm sustainability assessment were made at Energy and Rural Business Show earlier this month, in the event’s debate on ‘Achieving net-zero in agriculture’.

Patrick Holden, stated that we need an audit system on which to base farm payments.

“First, there should be an audit for the baseline data so there is a common language to base farm sustainability assessment on,” said Holden, the founding director at the sustainable food trust.

Also speaking in the debate, Dr. Jonathan Scurlock, chief policy advisor, renewable energy and climate change at the National Farmers Union (NFU), was positive about the contribution farmers can make in tackling climate change.

“We believe we can counterbalance agricultural emissions overall and innovation will play a big part in reaching net-zero in agriculture.”

We need to incentivise farmers to store carbon and connect to the gas grid.

Merlin Hyman, chief executive for Regen Waste Management, said that agriculture will have to do a lot more than achieve net-zero emissions.

“It’s likely they will have to capture emissions from other sectors,” he said.

Mark Broadmeadow explained that while planting trees was important, the right spaces were needed.

“We need to think very carefully about suitable trees for a changing climate,” he said.

Mark referenced the recent Committee on Climate Change ‘Land Use: Policies for a Net Zero UK’ report, in his presentation.

“The report has recommended that more land is taken up for bio-energy production. We need to think carefully about the trees planted for biomass supply,” said Broadmeadow, the forestry commission’s principal advisor for climate change.

Energy and Rural Business Show

Energy and Rural Business Show took place for the first time, at the East of England Arena, on March 3 and 4, 2020.


The event welcomed thousands of farmers and landowners through the doors, looking at low emission, sustainable and renewable diversification projects, to future-proof their businesses.

Key features at the show included:

  • A cross-section of low-carbon vehicles;
  • New test track;
  • Exhibition of leading product and service suppliers from across the sector; and
  • Energy conference.

This conference covered everything from AD and biogas enhancement, biomass, solar, identifying and maximising the value of agri-outputs and waste streams – to energy and environmental management.

The next Energy and Rural Business Show will take place in March, 2021. More information is available online.