Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) has said there are practical steps that farmers can take to improve environmental impact while also boosting profit.

A joint report between HCC, Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), has laid these steps out.

The study explored how 16 practices, across four categories, could contribute to increased productivity and profitability and reduced environmental impact.

The categories are: genetics and breeding, calving and fertility, feed and management.

HCC research and development and sustainability executive, Dr Heather McCalman, said: “This report was commissioned in response to the challenges facing the UK suckler beef sector and offers really practical tools for farmers so they are in a strong position to address those issues.”

“Improving efficiency on-farm will result in reduced costs and increased profitability. Many practices that improve productivity, like reducing age at first calving, result in a reduction in the number of replacements required, which has a positive knock-on environmental effect.

“Fewer replacements mean less enteric methane, less manure (which reduces nitrous oxide, ammonia and nitrate leaching) and less feed requirement, resulting in lower embedded emissions.”

GHG emissions

HCC said statutory targets including the requirement for the UK to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 2050, and increasing requirements from the supply chain for beef produced with low greenhouse gas emissions necessitate that farmers make improvements to their production systems.

“Adopting farm practices that improve efficiency will help meet environmental goals and improve profitability,” McCalman said.

“This work gives farmers and advisors a clear picture of the evidence of how management practices can help effective decision making.

“The outputs of this research will enable farmers to review and improve current farm practices and take advantage of practical advice that will boost productivity, profitability and improve environmental impacts.

“This gathers and provides insights and robust evidence to support and promote the beef sector.”