Land management is a significant source of greenhouse gases (GHG), though unlike other industries, the majority are not carbon dioxide, but other molecules such as nitrous oxide and methane. The management of ruminant animals is a key feature to achieving net zero carbon.
Approximately 80% of the total carbon found in terrestrial ecosystems is in the soil, and the soils ability to store carbon is three times that of the atmosphere and second only to the oceans. Cranfield University and Zero Carbon Shropshire have produced data on the carbon audit of soils and vegetation, indicating that Shropshire’s soils offer significant potential to store more carbon.
Key messages are:
In all habitats (even woodland) significantly more carbon is stored in the soil than in the biomass (the growing plants)
Peatland offers significant potential to store carbon, but only if properly managed, otherwise it becomes a net carbon emitter
Because of the amount of land involved, how we manage local grassland and arable cropping will have significant impact.
South Shropshire contains significant areas of peatland. Whilst peat is considered as a significant carbon sink, it is only effective if properly managed. Almost all of England’s peatlands, including Shropshire’s, are drying out and emitting, rather than sequestering, carbon. It is a local priority, therefore, to rewet peatland and enable it to sequester (store) more carbon (see the video "Just Add Water").
We should encourage agricultural practices that increase soil organic matter in Shropshire’s grassland, and which reduce carbon loss in arable land by reducing tillage. Support for these actions is being facilitated through the Farming in Protected Landscape project (FIPL).
Rebuilding the soil with livestock
Rebuilding the soil. One Somerset cattle farmer’s experience of changing his grazing regime for the better (6 minutes).
Maintaining good organic matter levels
Looking at maintaining organic matter levels in arable and grassland (3 minutes).
Trees & hedgerows on a dairy farm
How trees and hedgerows are used on Tim Downes' Shropshire dairy, beef and arable farm (5 minutes).
CPRE Shropshire's Hedgerow Heroes project (2021 to 2024)
What the project has achieved and the benefits of hedgerows to the countryside (11 minutes).
Life in the hedge: how to manage hedgerows for wildlife
A talk by hedgerow management expert Nigel Adams on hedgerows and how best to manage them for their health, longevity and biodiversity (1 hour 40 mins, but worth the watch!).
Agroforestry on upland farms
A Soil Association (October 2021) video of 3 upland farmers in Scotland, Brecon and Devon and their experiences of using agroforestry (11 minutes).
The benefits of agroforestry
Two Scottish livestock farmers talk about the benefits of trees and woodland on their farms (4 minutes).
Woodland benefits for poultry farms
A Cumbrian poultry farmer on the benefits of woodland (2 minutes).