- Plant trees
- Restore peatlands
- Adopt low-emission farming practices
- Produce energy crops
- Generate renewable energy
- Get finance and support
Planting trees increases the amount of carbon that is ‘captured’ or ‘sequestered’ on your property.
There are two main ways to do this:
- ‘agro-forestry’ – planting trees and shrubs among agricultural land
- tree planting and woodland creation – creating more new woodlands and landscapes with many trees, and encouraging management of existing woodland
Forest Research’s Climate Change Hub provides information and practical support about climate change risks to UK woodlands and guidance for practitioners to adapt their woodlands.
There are a number of government schemes to help you get started. Check our finance and support section for a listing.
Provided you use the right lands and plant appropriate species, trees can earn extra income for your business.
As woodland can be ‘thinned’ using forestry management techniques, there is income potential from the sale of timber.
Restoring or ‘re-wetting’ peatlands has the ability to capture and store large amounts of carbon.
Historic land-use change such as ‘drained’ peatland contributes to emissions in the present. However, much of the UK’s ‘drained’ peatland is now used for farming, so converting it all back would negatively impact food production.
Similar to woodlands, it makes sense to look into peatland restoration for less productive agricultural lands. Much of this is known as ‘upland’ peat which is used for grazing as opposed to crop production.
According to the Country Land and Business Association this type of peatland is less expensive to restore.
It is estimated that farming contributes about 10% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the UK.
The Committee on Climate Change estimates that the majority of these emissions can be cut by 2050 without impacting UK food production.
Emission from farming and land use come from:
- carbon emissions from fossil fuel-powered equipment
- nitrous oxide from fertiliser
- methane released directly from ‘ruminant’ livestock (sheep and cattle) and their manure
Techniques that can reduce these emissions include:
- energy efficiency vehicles
- precision application of fertilisers and precision farming techniques (GPS, etc)
- integration of cover crops in rotation or herbal leys ((temporary grasslands made up of legume, herb and grass species)
- improving herd health
Visit these websites for more information:
- Nature Friendly Farming Network: ‘Net Zero Carbon in the UK Farming Sector: A practical guide’
- Country Land and Business Association (CLA): ‘What is carbon and how does it impact the environment?’
- National Farmers’ Union (NFU): ‘Achieving net zero’
Currently only a small fraction of UK farmland is used to grow crops that can produce ‘bioenergy’.
These crops are typically low-cost and low-maintenance varieties that can be used for energy production in biomass energy schemes.
This helps reduce overall emissions as biomass can replace fossil fuels as source fuel for energy generation.
Common bioenergy crops include:
- food crops such as wheat, maize and sugarbeet
- dedicated energy crops such as silvergrass and short rotation coppice
It is important to recognize the risks linked to energy crops, as planting the same crops across a large amount of land can lead to biodiversity loss.
When considering planting energy crops, you need to take into account local geography and species-appropriate planning.
Download ‘Land Use Policies for a Net Zero UK’ from the Climate Change Committee for more detailed guidance on bioenergy crops.
Rural locations can be ideal for solar panels and wind turbines.
If you have land that isn’t suitable for food production it makes sense to check and see if it makes financial sense.
Generating your own energy can help you earn extra income or defer the cost of energy bills.
The UK Government has a number of ‘Environmental Land Management’ schemes to help convert land into uses that improve the environment and reduce carbon in the atmosphere.
These include the:
- Sustainable Farming Incentive (open)
- Countryside Stewardship (open)
- Landscape Recovery (testing now – Round 2 open in Spring 2023)
These fund a range of different land use improvements across the UK. Other schemes are the responsibility of devolved governments.
- the Woodland Creation Planning Grant covers projects 5 ha and larger up to £30,000 in total costs
- the England Woodland Creation Offer funds up to £10,000 per hectare for improving land through tree planting
- the Nature for Climate Peatland Grant Scheme funds up to 85% of project costs for peatland
- the Small Grants Woodland Creation scheme covers projects as small as 0.1 ha up to £4,500 in total costs
- the Woodland Creation Planning scheme funds projects starting at 0.25 ha and gives up to £5,000 in total costs
- the Peatland grant covers up to £30,000
- the Forestry Grants Scheme funds existing and new woodlands
- the Peatland ACTION scheme covers projects larger than 10 ha with up to £10,000 in cost