This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
Sustainability and heritage 49


carbon Improving farming’s footprint


How can farmers and growers in Europe remain commercially competitive, while doing more to protect the environment and mitigate climate change? A new computer model, developed by a team at our Agriculture and Environment Research Unit (AERU), is actively helping farmers and policy-makers to evaluate the options, and make effective decisions about modifying practices.


Agriculture and climate change are intrinsically linked. Each has the power to influence the other. With almost half of the European Union’s land area given over to agriculture and nine per cent of European greenhouse gas emissions arising from agricultural sources, farmers and growers have enormous potential to mitigate climate change.


Traditionally, it has been difficult for farmers on the ground to accurately assess their options and decide on the best course of action. One of the biggest challenges facing policy-makers in encouraging farms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and/or increase carbon sequestration is the huge diversity of farms. Every farm is different in terms of its core business, size and local environment. With large regional variations in climate mitigation potential, ‘one size fits all’ guidelines and policies are


Picture description


both unrealistic and unproductive. The IMPACCT (Integrated Management oPtions for Agricultural Climate Change miTigation) model is a prototype software package, developed by AERU researchers, that addresses these challenges in a unique way.


Unlike other carbon calculation tools, IMPACCT analyses individual farm activities in detail and provides a holistic perspective, ie not just calculating greenhouse gas emissions, but also assessing impacts on other environmental objectives, such as water quality and biodiversity, and the economics of the farm. This takes into account a comprehensive range of farm and environmental issues to identify specific, sustainable and cost- effective mitigation options. Most importantly, this integrated ‘whole- farm’ approach enables farmers


to identify the broader impacts – both positive and negative – of implementing particular changes.


‘Our methodology ensures farmers have all the information they need to make financially-sound and well- balanced environmental decisions. The software enables them to play a more active role in influencing climate change, and to improve their performance in environmentally- sensitive farming,’ explains Dr Kathy Lewis, Head of AERU.


To refine and validate the model, the team conducted trials on over twenty farms in seven countries via collaboration with researchers from across Europe to ensure credibility of the emission and sequestration assessments.


In a short time IMPACCT has attracted interest from several


policy groups within the European Commission and is expected to inform public debate in this vital area of climate change. The software’s dedicated policy tool allows policy- makers and advisors to explore what-if scenarios with respect to baseline and future scenarios. They can assess the impact of proposed agricultural and environmental policy measures. For example, the model can help to identify the potential benefits of encouraging better management of fertilisers or regulations on livestock diets.


The IMPACCT project was commissioned by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for the Environment, as part of a Europe- wide research and development programme to promote and support more climate-friendly farming.


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72