Focussing on more climate-friendly farming techniques could see Scotland’s agriculture sector cut greenhouse gas emissions by 38%, according to a report for WWF Scotland.
Published in early January, the WWF Scotland commissioned report, Delivering on Net Zero: Scottish Agriculture, by Organic Policy, Business and Research Consultancy, found a series of mitigation measures that can be used on a farm level with little or no land use change. These changes could see emissions fall by the equivalent of 2.9mn tons of CO2.
Farm-level changes proposed in the report were reducing nitrogen fertiliser use through efficiency measures and broad uptake of organic manures; improving animal health and breeding; introducing rotational grazing techniques; and encouraging the use of legumes in grassland, further reducing the need for nitrogen-based fertilisers. It also set out system-level changes that could deliver significant carbon savings, including a shift to organic production; investing in trees on farms through agro-forestry; and a focus on social health and plant diversity through conversation agriculture.
Dr Shelia George, Food and Environment Policy Manager at WWF Scotland, said: “Agriculture is at risk from a changing climate but can be part of the climate solution – our land is our biggest natural defence against climate change and farmers and other land managers have a key role in protecting it. We need to produce food in a way that reduces emissions and locks up more carbon. By adapting our farming methods, Scotland could be at the forefront of the global transition to climate-friendly farming with unique export and branding opportunities arising. To get there, we need to see a reframing of rural policy, financial support along with advice and training available for land managers.”