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Seven ways sheep farmers can reduce carbon emissions

A new guide from CIEL offers practical ways to help sheep farmers to achieve net zero on farm.

With a focus on genetics, animal nutrition, forage management and the use of carbon auditing tools, the new guide is a summary of a report published by CIEL (Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock) earlier this year, titled Net Zero & Livestock: How farmers can reduce emissions.

In the report, case studies were used to explore the effectiveness of different strategies across UK livestock systems.

Speaking at the NSA Sheep Event, Dr Mark Young, head of innovation at CIEL, says the guide can help to show what reaching net zero on-farm actually looks like.

“UK agriculture has been set the target of reaching net zero status, but for many there is still the question of ‘what does this mean practically for me and my business?’” explains Dr Young. “This guide aims to help support this transition, identifying seven areas within UK sheep production where farmers can begin to focus on, or continue to work on, within their businesses.”

For sheep farmers the focus is on driving on-farm efficiencies, from making tweaks to flock management to help reduce age at first lambing and increase lambing rates, alongside improving forage quality and utilisation, and enhancing sward productivity.

Dr Young adds that reviewing diets, genetics and fertiliser use is a great place to start when looking to reduce on-farm emissions.

“This guide is focused on being action driven, to enable farmers to set KPIs that will support on-farm efficiency while also helping reduce emissions.

“None of this is new to farmers,” notes Dr Young. “But, unless we know at the farmgate what changes can be adopted to meet wider targets around net zero, the industry will fail to do so,” he adds.

“We know that change is needed, but this needs to take place at the farm level. The intention is this guide can help support farmers in recognising where small changes can be made that can make a big difference if we collectively pull together to improve efficiency of production,” Dr Young concludes.

The four-page practical guide on how sheep producers can reduce emissions is available on the CIEL website: https://www.cielivestock.co.uk/expertise/net-zero-carbon-uk-livestock/report-april-2022/

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