ADAS’s new industry network seeks sponsors for research into achieving net zero in agriculture

July 12, 2021

ADAS, an RSK group company, will be launching a new industry network in July 2021 to tackle the carbon footprint associated with crop production. The new network, YEN Zero, will work with the entire food supply chain to achieve net zero emissions by 2040, a target set by the industry. YEN Zero is one of eight Yield Enhancement Networks led by researchers at ADAS.

Agriculture has long been recognised as a significant contributor of greenhouse gas emissions. In the farming of arable crops, emissions are primarily produced through cultivation choices and the use of artificial fertilisers. Presently, the industry has no standard for the measurement of emissions produced through cropping practices, making it difficult for those further up the supply chain to quantify the contribution agriculture makes to their total emissions. Through the new network, researchers at ADAS will conduct analysis and benchmarking of combinable crop carbon footprints on a per-field basis, with the ambition to extend this analysis to carbon accounting at a whole-farm scale in the near future.

The benchmarking of greenhouse gas intensities per crop in this way will enable researchers to make a fair and easy comparison of emission levels between different farms, fields and crops. This will make it possible to understand what agronomic processes and practices are specifically driving emissions and will facilitate the testing of mitigation strategies. Following on from this, ADAS experts and supporters of YEN Zero will work together to engage directly with growers and offer support in the introduction of strategies that will optimise crop production practices and reduce the environmental impacts of cropping systems.

Through the formation of this new network, a space will be created to facilitate knowledge sharing on pivotal net-zero topics; metrics for calculating carbon footprints can be agreed upon to create cross-industry consensus; and mitigation strategies can be tried and tested on farms to better understand what works. Results will be communicated via the network.

As part of the activities of YEN Zero, researchers at ADAS will host a series of workshop events for network members. These workshops will provide an opportunity for them to share and grow their knowledge on key net-zero issues and will operate as open forums to address industry-specific challenges, such as the potential for soil carbon sequestration, strategies for effective carbon mitigation and methods for calculating the carbon footprint of cropping.

There are currently several organisations engaging in the YEN Zero initiative, including the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Syngenta, Bayer, Origin Fertilisers, Hutchinsons, Nestlé, John Fergus & Co and Glenmorangie. Daniel Kindred, Head of Agronomics at ADAS, said, “We are really excited to have such strong support from organisations across the supply chain to bring our YEN approach to tackling carbon emissions. By working together, we can develop a shared understanding of the issues and can share ideas and experience of what works for the industry’s journey towards net zero.”

The network is still looking for organisations that would like to join the YEN Zero initiative. By becoming sponsors of YEN Zero, organisations can demonstrate that they are taking part in bottom-up research that is making strides to achieve net zero in agriculture. If you would like to find out more about joining as a sponsor of the network, please contact christina.baxter@adas.co.uk or visit the ADAS YEN Zero website.