New soil sequestration tool launched to help farms plan carbon footprint reduction

A carbon footprint tool, which aims to help farmers reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, has been updated to include a soil sequestration module.

Agrecalc was developed by SAC Consulting – part of SRUC, in response to the growing need for a simple-to-use, accurate and science-driven carbon audit tool.

The mission of the tool is to offer an achievable goal for farms or supply chain businesses to lower carbon emissions, with the ultimate aim of achieving net-zero where viable.

The tool is already used by more than 2,500 businesses and institutions, including the Scottish Government, retailers, corporate farming businesses and financial institutions.

However, it has now become the first to use the accredited Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) methodology for soil carbon sequestration.

Julian Bell, a principal consultant at SAC Consulting, said: “We have a model farm that allows us to examine how management practices contribute to carbon reduction, and importantly this now considers the role of soils and their management.

Typically, most farms can attain the first 10-15% of carbon reduction with changes in practices, such as growing more legumes, sampling manures and soils to reduce fertiliser use, or implementing paddock grazing.

“The next level of 10-15% improvement should be feasible from more significant investments such as new machinery or systems’ changes, while achieving 30-40% reduction is likely to require more drastic measures such as afforestation.”

Dr. Alasdair Sykes, the system’s agricultural modeller, said the aim of the new Agrecalc soil carbon module is to make accounting for soil carbon sequestration easy with a simple interface, while still extracting the all-important farmer effect versus what would happen naturally.

He said: “The core elements of this are land-related variables, such as soil type, climate and land use, overlaid with management factors such as tillage or stocking density, and finally factors relating to inputs to the soil, such as fertiliser or manure.”

The tool is free for farmers to use as a single licence and takes around two hours to input the information.