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Accurate data key to lowering scope 3 emissions

In our regular Head out of Farm series we’re investigating the pressure our farmers are under to cut scope 3 emissions and why assessing carbon levels has never been more important.

This month Anna Woodley, the managing director of London software company Trinity Agtech, offers advice to our farmers on the data they’ll need to deal with upcoming changes to the UK food chain.

What are scope 3 emissions?

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are split into three categories, scope 1, 2 and 3.

  • Scope 1 - emissions directly from company-owned and controlled resources
  • Scope 2 - emissions produced indirectly from the energy and fuels used by the company
  • Scope 3 - all other indirect emissions produced by those in a company’s supply chain and not directly by the company itself

Attention within the food supply chain has now firmly turned towards tackling scope 3 emissions which will impact all our farmers.

Why do scope 3 emissions matter?

Six of the UK’s leading supermarkets are now committed to halving the environmental impact of a basket of food by 2030, increasing calls for changes to food production from farm to fork.

Farmers can expect much more pressure from within the supply chain, both in terms of auditing carbon and in improving on-farm emissions.

We are already seeing this from some processors and packers, with farms supplying premium product ranges in particular, being required to supply carbon audits.

It’s important farmers keep control of this process, to create opportunities and limit any risk associated with a poor carbon assessment.

Avoiding a bad carbon assessment

The first-generation software, used to calculate on-farm emissions of individual farm businesses, failed to account for differences in farming systems, like land types or management practices.

If an animal has been bred to convert feed more efficiently and requires less food, then farmers need to be able to capture the resulting reduction in their carbon footprint.

However, much of the science and data behind first generation calculators and tools, do not account for these differences.

To offer a clear roadmap to reduce farm emissions while supporting farm business profitability, it is vital on-farm software has the analytical capabilities to not only deliver a credible assessment but to also guide decision making.

Understanding the route to sustainable farming

The ability to make progress and capitalise on opportunities around reducing your farm’s emissions doesn’t just come from identifying the baseline levels.

It is also important to have a roadmap that guides you to the practices and methods best suited to your farm, pairing a reduction in emissions with business profitability and financial longevity.

Trinity Agtech’s own navigator software, Sandy, compares different farming practices and their effects on carbon, as well as other key aspects of natural capital like biodiversity and water protection.

Farmers need to be able to collect the right data to offset their carbon and illustrate the hard work they have already been doing to cut emissions.