Collaborative Partnership Reaches for Carbon Neutral Farming
October 12, 2020
OSI Europe and the Pickstock family join forces with agri nutrition specialists, Devenish Nutrition, to deliver a carbon neutral farming system by 2030.
To help the two businesses reach their aspirational carbon neutral target, Devenish Nutrition has been measuring the true environmental impact of livestock production on their farm, Dowth Hall in Co. Meath, Ireland, and OSI Europe is undertaking the same research on Brongain, Greg Pickstock’s sustainability trial farm in Wales.
Measuring the carbon intensity and total environmental impact of farmed livestock is not an easy task, with multiple factors coming into play. However, this project is unique as it takes into consideration carbon storage and sequestration, as well as calculating the level of biomass in the soil from GPS sampling points using LiDAR technology. To date, no other projects have used such carbon footprinting tools.
The work being undertaken also considers the role of nitrogen fixing plants such as legumes and herbal leys, which store nitrogen in the soil. This is key, as these plants reduce the requirement for grassland to receive nitrogen fertilizer applications, which will produce emissions.
Grass-based livestock systems often allow for better soil health with a greater abundance of earthworms and little disturbance to the land, which means soil is often carbon and nitrogen rich and biodiversity benefits follow. It is therefore important that these benefits are recognized and built on to help reach carbon neutral goals.
In addition, the research includes the usual parameters measured in current carbon footprint models to include stock numbers, feed consumption, finishing ages and fertilizer use, which allows the emissions produced to be calculated and evaluated, and mitigation strategies implemented.
Working together on this project provides benefits for both OSI Europe and Devenish Nutrition as a larger pool of data from different livestock systems can be collected, analyzed and compared. Resources can then be combined to interpret this data and identify the most sustainable model of production to tackle livestock emissions and drive performance.
The findings can then be shared with livestock farms across the UK, so that producers can identify the true environmental impact of their farm and how they can work towards helping the industry become carbon neutral, while allowing the public to continue to enjoy high quality meat as part of their diet.
HERE’S WHAT THE PARTNERS HAVE TO SAY ON THIS PROJECT:
“Collaborating with Devenish is the perfect opportunity to combine resources and knowledge to develop and implement a research project that will allow us to comprehensively understand the carbon intensity of our farming practices. It is hoped that this project will provide valuable insight to help us reach our carbon neutral targets, while also showcasing methods that we and the wider industry can use to improve soil health and continue to positively drive livestock performance. At OSI Europe, sustainability is a key focus for us and it’s great to find another business as passionate and driven to improve this as we are.” Kevin Cahill, Managing Director of OSI Europe
“One of our key objectives at Pickstock Telford is to collaborate with leading experts to identify the most sustainable and efficient model of production that is financially viable for farmers and meets the needs of customers. We’re excited to be partnering with OSI Europe and Devenish Nutrition, utilizing our facilities at Brongain Farm, to establish practical ways for us and the agricultural industry to meet carbon neutral targets.” Greg Pickstock, Managing Director of Pickstock Telford
“I’m really pleased that OSI Europe want to come on the journey with us to show how farming landscapes and grazing systems can improve our environmental footprint. Agriculture is one of very few sectors that have the capacity to sequester and store carbon –in soil, hedges and trees. We will work with OSI Europe to measure, manage and improve the net carbon position at Brongain. Combining resources and knowledge will allow us to showcase and inspire other farmers to maximize the health of their soil and improve the carbon sequestration capacity of their farms. At Devenish Nutrition, we are excited to see the potential for carbon neutral farming and to then be able share this insight with other livestock farmers across the UK.” Owen Brennan, Executive Chair of Devenish Nutrition