Cereals preview webinar explores net-zero in agriculture

CHAP was delighted to sponsor and chair an industry webinar that explored how agriculture can achieve net-zero.

The webinar was one of a series, previewing the topics that will be explored at the Cereals arable show in Boothy Graffoe in Lincolnshire on June 31 and July 1.

CHAP Innovation Director Dr Ruth Bastow chaired the webinar, which welcomed three of the speakers scheduled to speak in the AHDB theatre at the Cereals Event.

Attendees also heard from Dr Jon Foot, Head of Environment & Resource Management at AHDB, who opened the session and set the scene. Dr Foot explained that although carbon emissions are hitting the headlines, agriculture is also the source for 88% of ammonia emissions and that therefore, the industry needs to do much more to make an impact on climate change.

First on the speaker line-up was Sarah Mukherjee, CEO of Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA). Ms Mukherjee discussed how farming businesses can prevent and manage the impacts of climate change at the same time as creating resilient and sustainable landscapes for food and wildlife.

In reference to the change in policy regarding the Agriculture Bill and payments for environmental outcomes, she said: “This is a complex and difficult subject to get your head around, so the advice is to keep up to date with the DEFRA website and any membership organisations you are a part of. Working collaboratively can make the most impact and improve the value gained from the different proposed schemes. Also, seek out advice, even if you have to pay for it: it will be worth it.”

Professor Wendy Harwood, Senior Scientist at the John Innes Centre. Professor Harwood then gave a brief overview of how gene editing can make cereal crops resistant to disease and reduce the need for chemical applications in the field.

Professor Harwood said: “Gene editing is creating variation to produce the crops of the future, it works by tweaking the existing crop DNA. This is in contrast to GM, where something additional is often added. It’s important that we educate on the differences between the two, as gene editing is a new technique that could prove valuable in effectively tackling climate change.”

The final guest speaker was Northumberland farmer and consultant, Louis Fell. Drawing on his own experiences within the 23 Burns Farmer Group, he discussed how farmer collaboration can deliver landscape-level environmental benefits.

Mr Fell said: “We wanted to show that farmers can work together for greater environmental value, so established the group to deliver ELM (Environmental Land Management) scheme tests and trials. We had a great uptake within the local area of those wanting to deliver positive change., it’s clear that they’d rather do that as part of a regulated group.”

The webinar concluded with a Q&A session and an invite to meet the speakers at the show later this year.

CHAP will be exhibiting at the Cereals Event, for more information go to Events.

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