Environment Baselining Pilot – Frequently asked questions

Here are frequently asked questions about the environment baselining pilot.

Please note that the window to express your interest has now closed. 


The pilot will give you an extraordinary level of information and data about your farm – both the productive land and the unproductive land. You will also get support to interpret that data and create an action plan that is bespoke for you and your business. The idea of the action plan is to identify the areas that deliver an environmental improvement which is consistent with your long-term business aims. Our experience shows that a number of environmental wins also deliver financial wins.

It should take around five minutes to complete.

If you have signed up to publications from AHDB previously, you will have already provided some of that information to us (such as name, address, and sectors). To avoid you having to provide that data again, logging in will pre-populate the answers to those questions. You can still overwrite those answers if things have changed.

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

The EOI form asks for basic information about your farm business, which sectors you are involved in, land area, number of animals, etc. It should take around five minutes to complete.

In terms of the pilot, the only cost to you will be your time: time to undertake the carbon audit and sit down with the adviser to create an action plan. There is no expectation for you to pay for any of the baselining yourself. However, as part of implementing the action plan for your business, there may be costs, but those will be for you to decide and there is no obligation for you to commit to any particular change.

The main focus of the pilot is to get a net carbon position for the 170 farms. That will include a carbon footprint, landscape and soil carbon measurement, run-off risk maps and soil analysis. The following measurements will be taken across both your productive and non-productive land:

  • LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) survey of your farm, giving above-ground biomass, carbon stocks and run-off risk maps
  • Below-ground carbon stocks at different depths
  • Soil analysis, including nutrients and soil biology

The sampling will be carried out by external providers. You won’t be expected to take your own samples.

As a guide, it could take the equivalent of around three to four days of time to provide all the required information and engage with the project team to establish the farm baseline and agree an action plan. Much of this will be related to undertaking the carbon audit and agreeing the subsequent action plan. In subsequent years, less time will be required probably around one to two days every year, with slightly more every other year when the carbon audit is redone. Involvement in KE activities will be optional but encouraged.

There is also the requirement to allow access to the farm for soil sampling – but farmers are not being asked to take the soil samples themselves; we will be using contractors to do so.

You shouldn’t need an agent to complete the EOI as it is a very simple form to fill in. But if you’d like your agent to fill in the EOI, you will need to register/sign in to AHDB’s Preference Centre to give them access to the EOI to complete.

You will need to fill a form in for each farm, not each enterprise. We are looking to recruit mixed farms, as well as single-enterprise farms.

You will need to complete an EOI for each farm. In the question which asks about networks – please make a note of the request there (for each farm separately).

You will have a carbon audit and a tailored action plan, with one-to-one support from a pre-approved adviser. The intention is to revisit the action plan in year three to check progress and determine whether any changes to the plan are required. Again, this will be done with one-to-one support from the adviser.

We are encouraging all farmers interested to apply individually through the EOI form. There is an opportunity on the form to include details of any network you are part of, particularly if that network is able to bring benefit to the pilot. For example, if your network could help disseminate results, or is already doing similar measurements and is willing to share the data with us as part of the project.

AHDB will not share any data without the farmer’s permission. If a famer is happy to talk about some of their figures, then that could happen in case study articles and at KE events, but that is completely optional and not a requirement for participation in the project. We are more interested in what farmers have done with the data and what decisions it enabled them to make.

The project data set will be analysed and reported anonymously to look for trends across land use and enterprise types, etc, so that no individual farm’s data will be identifiable.

It is essential that we get a mix of farms to cover those who are at the start of their environmental journey and those who are partway through. We need to cover all the sectors in a way that is proportional to the levy investment made by each sector, and we hope to include as many soil types, land uses and farming systems as possible.

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 are shortlisted, you will be contacted to get more information about your current position and aspirations for the project.

We are looking to get the LiDAR undertaken this coming winter, when the leaves are off the trees, with below-ground sampling following quickly afterwards. We would expect the first results to be available to farmers in the spring of 2025.

This is approximately a £5 million project, with half coming from levy funds.

We are partnering with QMS to ensure Scottish red meat farmers are also included.

At present, we are focusing on the net carbon position of the farm business, with a large proportion of the cost involved in measuring the carbon stocks in the trees/hedges and soil. For the majority of pig farms, those measurements are not directly relevant. However, the largest elements of the carbon footprint for pork production are related to feed and manures. We are therefore looking for farms where the pigs and arable land are linked – either pigs who are kept outdoors and are part of the arable rotation, or farms where the pig slurry is used on the arable land.

We cover England only for these sectors but have partnered with QMS to ensure Scottish farmers are also eligible to join. We are talking with Welsh government about funding in Wales, but nothing has been confirmed at this stage.

Mixed farms are eligible and include arable and dairy in Wales, so if you are an AHDB levy payer for arable or dairy, you will be eligible. Although we haven’t secured funding to cover Welsh red meat farmers, the EOI only takes five minutes, so we would suggest you apply while the funding discussions progress.

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