Environment Baselining Pilot

Your farm’s future starts with an environment baseline.

Thank you to everyone that expressed their interest in the environment baselining pilot. We received over 500 submissions! 

Our project team is now assessing each application against the set criteria to ensure the final 170 farms are a robust and fair reflection of the many different systems within British agriculture. As part of this process, applicants may receive a phone call from us so we can get more information about their farm. Final selections will be made in September. 

Please see below for further information about acceptance onto the pilot. 

Empowering farmers

This pilot will fund a comprehensive environment baseline for all participating farms and support them with acting on the results.

From considering your farm's emissions alongside carbon sequestration to seeing how and where water runs off your land, this baseline data will tell you where your farm is today and where you can make improvements.

This will give you the confidence, along with 1–1 support, to make changes to improve efficiency, build resilience to increasing change and, together, tell the real story of farming and its relationship with the natural world.

The pilot is open to all levy-paying farmers and growers in UK cereals and oilseeds, Great Britain (GB) dairy, and beef, sheep and pork in England and Scotland, and we are working with QMS on this project.

The window to express your interest has now closed.

AHDB’s commitment:

  • 1–1 support from pre-approved adviser
  • Tailored action plan
  • Fully funded carbon footprint, landscape carbon measurement, run-off risk maps and soil analysis
  • Honest and secure data storage and anonymised data analysis

Pilot farm’s commitment:

  • Committed to the full five years of the project
  • Access for approved subcontractors to collect data, starting October 2024
  • Create and implement action plan to drive improvements with advisory support
  • Attend pilot meetings and events

More than a pilot

The Environmental Baselining Pilot promises to empower farmers with unique data and insight that will drive change, forging a fairer and more resilient path towards becoming net zero by 2050.   

By participating in this industry-first pilot, farmers will gain full understanding of their individual farm’s environmental performance and obtain the knowledge and confidence to make changes to safeguard their future. 

This pioneering AHDB-driven initiative is more than a pilot, it’s a movement to redefine:

  • How farmers are recognised for delivering both food and environmental goods
  • The environmental impact of agriculture in GB
  • The scale and potential of natural carbon stocks and sequestration
  • The industry’s progress towards net zero

It’s not just about measuring carbon or soils, it’s a transition to informed action and debate about British agriculture.

We are supporting the industry to unify and take action, based on accurate on-farm data and evidence, to safeguard the future of UK agriculture with fair recognition and reward.

What’s being measured?

The aim of environment baselining is to establish the amount of net carbon on a range of different farms and land uses, taking account of carbon stored in soil, hedges and trees, as well greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

It provides a starting point for tracking changes in GHG emissions and carbon sequestration over time and identifying where there are opportunities to make improvements. 

The following activities will take place on farm:

  • Aerial LIDAR (light ranging and detection) scanning to assess above-ground carbon stocks in trees and hedges, as well as mapping run-off risk
  • Assessment of field soil carbon levels
  • Soil analysis
  • Carbon audit and action plan

Note: The above will cover both cropped and non-cropped land, such as woodland.

There are lots of win-wins along a farm's environment journey.

From a farmer’s point of view, the good thing about storing more carbon in the soil and reducing emissions is that, in most cases, the result is improved soil health, reduced inputs and greater production efficiency.

Our aim is to explore and demonstrate this on a range of commercial farms.

Podcast

Hear more about the pilot from AHDB's CEO, Graham Wilkinson, and Livestock Science and Environment Director, Chris Gooderham, in our podcast below:

Acceptance onto the pilot

After submitting your expression of interest, AHDB and QMS will review the information to understand each farm's suitability for the pilot project.

We expect interest in the pilot to be strong, and due to budget constraints it is unlikely that we will be able to take everyone forward. We will, therefore, review all farms before acceptance onto the pilot to ensure alignment with the overall objectives, which are to show:

  • The environmental impact of agriculture in GB
  • The scale and potential of natural carbon stocks and sequestration
  • The industry’s progress towards net zero

We will therefore look for farms to cover:

  • A range of sectors across Great Britain, weighted to provide an appropriate spread of sectors in each country and region
  • A range of production systems within each sector 
  • A range of land management uses and practices, including the use of animal manures on arable land
  • A number of mixed farms to explore how mixed farming systems impact carbon stocks and other measurements
  • A diverse range of soil types to indicate carbon stock levels under different conditions
  • The farm owner’s commitment to engage with AHDB and partners for the duration of the five-year project

Every farmer who expresses an interest in the pilot project will receive communication from either AHDB or QMS with the outcome of their application; we anticipate this will be by the end of August 2024.

If you have any questions, email: info@ahdb.org.uk 

Frequently asked questions

Read the FAQ about the environment baselining pilot

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