Legumes can help farm finance​​​​​​​s

Growing peas and beans and the adoption of precision farming techniques are among the most effective measures for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on farms, according to research.

Scientists at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) assessed various farm technologies and practices aimed at reducing GHG emissions as part of the Scottish Government’s plans to meet a net-zero target by 2045.

The researchers found that while increased grain legume cultivation is the most effective measure, providing on average 553 kg CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) per hectare savings annually, it was also the most expensive option - with a net average cost of £406 per hectare per year.

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Precision farming, using variable rate nitrogen and lime application, could, the workers on the ClimateXChange project, claimed provide more than 100kg CO2e emission savings annually per hectare.

The work highlighted that intercropping – growing more than one crop in a field at a time - provided the highest cost saving of £45 per hectare annually, while other practices such as using crop varieties with higher nitrogen use efficiency and soil pH management also improved farm finances.

Measures to reduce methane emissions by cattle – including using specific feed additives, breeding for low methane emissions and using impermeable covers over slurry stores - could save between 57 and 854kg CO2e while also saving between £31 and £359 per head per year.

Climate Change Researcher Vera Eory said the research offered key options for farmers interested in reducing their GHG impact – and highlighted some key options they could implement either now or in the near future.