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Farming Connect Environment and Climate Change Report


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Farming Connect Presentation 2013

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Farming Connect Environment and Climate Change Report

  2. 2. 2 1. Farming Connect - Background Farming Connect is an integrated, high profile, Wales-wide service for farming families and forestry businesses. It is funded through the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 which is financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government. Its main purpose is to help farmers, foresters and their families to run their business more efficiently and to safeguard the future of their farm. It is an integrated programme for all sectors including Red Meat, Dairy, Land-use and Organic and delivers support to the industry on the cross-cutting themes of environment and climate change, animal health and welfare, health and safety, biosecurity, effective use of ICT, women and young entrants. The main elements of the programme can be summarised as follows: Knowledge Transfer Programme. The aim of this programme is to ensure that information is available to help producers adopt new practices, benchmark performance, share ideas, address market needs and encourage innovation Subsidised Services. The Whole Farm Plan provides one-to-one mentoring on a range of options designed to support agricultural and forestry businesses grow and develop including Animal Health Planning; and the Farm Advisory Service offers one-to-one, confidential on-farm advice aimed at supporting farm and forestry holders to improve the sustainable management of their holdings in relation to SMRs, GAECs and standards relating to occupational health and safety. The Skills Development Programme aims to up-skill individuals who work in the farming and forestry sectors in Wales to improve working practices, comply with legislation and to encourage diversification. Farming Connect Industry Development (Event Management) disseminates strategic messages and key topical issues via a range of mechanisms including seminars and surgeries. The contract allows the Welsh Government the flexibility to disseminate strategic messages in whatever format, frequency and location that is required to achieve maximum impact and uptake. Agrisgôp is a Management Development Programme which works with groups of approximately eight farmers. It is based on the concept of Action Learning and aims to stimulate a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. 2. Environment and Climate Change Activity (up to 31 August 2013) 2.1 Knowledge Transfer Programme The Cross Cutting theme paper on the environment identifies that the environment is our key asset. It recognises the valuable role that the industry has in the future management of the environment and sustainable use of resources and also that sound environmental management is borne out of good business management. Environmental messages should be integrated into every element of the Farming Connect programme with an emphasis on wise use of natural resources as an essential and integral part of good business management. The Climate Change Cross Cutting theme paper identifies that the Farming Connect Programme should aim to encourage farmers to adopt practices that will lead to reduced GHG emissions and, in the medium to longer term, raise awareness of the opportunities and risks posed by a changing climate. Many practices, it is identified, can also enhance the profitability of the business, for example, efficiencies in farming production through more efficient livestock husbandry will achieve reduced levels of GHG (mainly CH4) per unit product (e.g. litre of milk or kg of beef / lamb) and managing the use of nitrogen fertiliser and slurry/manure will also reduce the levels of GHG emissions.
  3. 3. 3 Climate change is an overarching theme for the Knowledge Transfer Programme and the programme is appraised at the development stage to ensure that appropriate opportunities for action on climate change are highlighted at all Farming Connect events. Table 1 below summarises the knowledge transfer programme activity on Environmental and Climate Change cross cutting themes during the period 1st September 2011-31st August 2013. Activity Type Count of activity Examples of activity Clinics 44 Renewable energy clinics – An opportunity to assess the suitability and feasibility of renewable energy generation schemes Visual Soil Assessment clinics – Enabling farmers to gauge the quality of their soils and advice on how to improve soil quality. Grazing and Grassland Clinic – offering individual farmers an hour‟s practical on-farm advice on soil and grassland issues Home grown feeds clinic – Advice and information on home grown cereals and feeds Foot trimming clinics and practical lameness clinics Demonstration Farm Trial/Project Current Demonstration Farm projects aim to address environment and climate change issues and to demonstrate best practice: These projects include: Efficient grassland management and utilisation to improve profitability and increase sustainability (Projects developed in conjunction with IBERS „Grazing 4 Profit‟, which provides monthly bulletins for our website Developing and demonstrating a series of cropping options for out wintering cattle Improving pasture use through rotationally grazing sheep and cattle including a review of the environmental impact No Till to establish spring barley compared to conventional establishment Sward improvement without ploughing Addressing soil compaction Orchard management Woodland Management Water resource management Soil compaction and grassland improvement Results and lessons learned were disseminated to wider audiences via discussion group meetings, podcasts and technical articles. Our Network of 28 Demonstration farms have undertaken
  4. 4. 4 or are in the process of undertaking the following baseline studies: Nutrient Management Plans – aiming to highlight the economic and environmental benefits of adopting a targeted approach to fertiliser use. Energy and resource audits – enabling farmers to better understand their energy and water demands and also work to identify measures that they can put in place to reduce their footprint at farm level. Environmental Reviews – providing confidential, one to one advice and guidance to Farming Connect Demonstration Farmers on environmental management in line with regulatory cross compliance. The reviews also provide the opportunity for the identification of projects that promote best practice and that emphasise to farmers the business benefits of good regulatory compliance. Discussion Group 543 Farming Connect facilitators have addressed the environment and climate change at discussion group meetings on a range of topics including: Efficient grassland management and utilization which has been a popular topic for many discussion group meetings There have also been a number of discussion groups for horticulturists and growers. On farm solar PV Small Scale hydro projects „Making money from heat‟ – the Renewable Heat Incentive General overview and focus on renewable energy Establishing cereals for home grown feeds The environmental impacts and benefits of any changes to production have been highlighted at all discussion group meetings as have the opportunities to reduce emissions through efficient production. Farm Event 54 Farm events are an effective way of interacting with farmers, and topics covered during the year have included: Eye on the future: New forage varieties Soil, Muck and Money - highlighting the benefits of good soil management and nutrient management planning No Till Event
  5. 5. 5 Farm woodland management Grassland Improvement - Improving grass yield Soft fruit production Anaerobic digestion Benefits of digestates (event run in conjunction with WRAP Cymru) Fact Sheet 68 Examples of Factsheets produced and published during the contract have included: Clean/dirty water separation Organic forage production Soil structure Land drainage Field scale vegetable production Planning production to supply a vegetable box scheme and other direct marketing outlets Grazing Systems Weed control in grass and forage crops Grassland species Small scale wind power Small scale hydro power Orchard Management Protected Cropping Practical IPM Improving Grazing Management: Measure to Manage Farm Walk 34 Farm Walks are an interactive way of getting key messages on priority sectors across to farmers Effective grassland management was a key topic for many farm walks held during the summer of 2012. Environmental and climate change topics have been addressed at the following Farm Walks: Rotational Grazing Optimising grass production and pasture management Wholecrop focus and grazing management in dairy production Anaerobic Digestion Breeding suckler cow replacements and wind turbine installation Visit to Hydroelectricity & biomass boiler An insight into a farm Hydro system Grassland Improvements and woodland grants Merched y Maes 29 Merched y Maes, women only groups, have been formed, and the following meetings addressed environment and climate change: Identification of grass species and signs of healthy soil structure
  6. 6. 6 Dealing with farm paperwork and understanding cross compliance Soils and grassland management Renewable Energy Options Demonstration Farm open day 90 In addition to demo farm events related to project work on- going on the farm, the following events were held on demonstration farms: Reseeding options and weed control Optimising grass production and Nutrient Management planning Soil, Muck and Money and the benefits of farm woodland Nutrient management and soil compaction issues Dry Cow Nutrition and solar panels Grassland management and forestry event Recovering from 2012 – Land drainage and re- seeding options Practical orchard management Options for harvesting cereals Drainage issues Shows and exhibitions 37 The environment and climate change were key topics at all events and exhibitions attended during the year. Representatives from Natural Resources Wales have been present on Farming Connect Stand during summer shows to promote the fact that farmers must renew their Waste exemption certificates At the Royal Welsh Show in 2013, Farming Connect worked in conjunction with the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society to hold the „Tomorrow, today‟ exhibition, showcasing the latest innovation in agriculture. The focus of the Farming Connect stand at the Lantra building was on making efficient use of brassica crops. Demonstration Farm projects were also highlighted, including the importance of Dung Beetles in the breakdown of manure for improved soil aeration, leading to a reduction in the use of chemical fertilizers. Study Tours 16 Study tour participants are encouraged to investigate environmental and climate change issues and learn from others on the best ways to protect and enhance the environment. Visits included: Low Water Input Systems in Morocco Dairy Study tour to Ireland Study tour to Aberdeenshire which considered renewable energy options Technical 135 The following technical articles have been aimed at
  7. 7. 7 Article improving farm efficiencies and highlight environmental benefits: Grazing for Profit bulletins Mileage in Silage bulletins Know your flock bulletins Sustainable water management Why soil sample? Tractor Fuel Efficiency Helpful hints on slurry and dirty water Why soil sample? Spreading poultry manure Land drainage Soil temperature map narrative Livestock management and conservation grazing Managing soils to optimise production on a dairy farm Good slurry storage can save money Workshop 61 Workshops have included: Soil analysis workshops Silage analysis workshops Ectoparasites workshops Workshops are targeted at new farmers to Farming Connect, and offer a limited number of free samples and follow up consultation with the aim of developing knowledge on the environmental and economic benefits of sampling. The Farming Connect website is a resource for technical reports on activities, podcasts, factsheets and case studies. In January 2013, Farming Connect launched a new on-line Soil Temperature map, in conjunction with the Environment Agency (now NRW), in order to aid farmers with the timely application of fertilizer. The interactive map reported temperatures from 9 sites from across Wales each morning. 2.2 Whole Farm Plan & Farm Advisory Service The regional co-ordinators have consistently seen a demand for advice and mentoring on topics relating to the Environment and Climate Change. The team have been promoting and raising awareness of the importance of climate change and protecting the environment to farming businesses. Co-ordinators have been advising farmers to take up subsidised services to address issues and to investigate potential benefits any investments could have on their businesses and the environment. Under the Whole Farm Plan 89 advisors are able to deliver for the Alternative Energy mentoring, taking into account some mentors have also been delivering under the Diversification topic. An additional 88mentors are able to provide advice to farmers under the Environment category. Mentors are split between 6 companies giving farmers and foresters a good choice of mentors to select from.
  8. 8. 8 Farmers are encouraged to undertake energy efficiency reports to see how they could cut down any costs – this is a proven and effective exercise which many dairy farmers have undertaken. Farmers have also been accessing 80% funding through the Whole Farm plan towards feasibility studies into the possibility of investing in wind, hydro and solar schemes. The majority of these applications have been claimed under the Alternative Energy and Diversification category. There are many issues relating to the environment that arise on farms, and through Farming Connect services farmers are able to access funding to address specific problems. A common on- farm issue is clean and dirty water separation and manure and slurry storage. Farmers have been also receiving mentoring and advice on Glastir. Farmers receive funding for a mentor or advisor to assess the suitability of the scheme for the farm. Funding will allow a mentor to walk the farm and decide which options would be best suited for particular systems and habitats and generate the scorecard for the farmer to make the final decision on whether to apply for the scheme. Glastir has been a major driver for the uptake of mentoring under the Environment topic during the past 18 months. Co-ordinators have also been attending Glastir Surgeries and on-farm events, arranged by the Industry Development programme, to promote the subsidised services further. The Farm Advisory Service allows farmers to access 80% funding towards advice to conform with cross compliance regulations, including Land Management. Farmers have been receiving funding for soil sampling and Nutrient Management Plans. Via the Farm Advisory Service, farmers are also able to access further funding towards advice on environmental issues, many farmers have used the service to receive slurry/manure and water efficiency reports for the Glastir Efficiency Scheme. There are 104 mentors are available to deliver on behalf of the service. Table 2 below shows the Whole Farm Plan applications made between 1st September 2011 and 31st August 2013: Table 3 below shows the number of Farm Advisory Service applications made between 1st of September 2011 and 31st August 2013 for the Land Management, Environmental Protection and Environmental Management categories: Total Number of Approvals for Land Management FAS1 863 Percentage of FAS approvals that were for Land Management 79% Total Number of Environmental Protection applications for FAS 89 Percentage of FAS applications that were for Environmental Protection 8% Total Number of Environmental Management applications for FAS 128 Percentage of FAS applications that were for Environmental Management 12% 2.3 Skills Development Programme 1 Nutrient Management plans are approved under the Land Management category of the Farm Advisory Service. Total number of application forms approved for WFP 2383 Total number of days approved for WFP 5962.5 Number of application forms approved for Alternative Energy 439 Percentage of WFP applications that were for Alternative Energy 18% Number of application forms approved for Environment 783 Percentage of WFP applications that were for Environment application approved 32%
  9. 9. 9 The Skills Development Programme provides 80% funding to farmers towards short accredited courses, a number of these courses address environmental and climate change topics and issues, and these include: Pesticide / crop spraying FACTS/ BASIS Mole and Pest Control Dry – stone walling Fencing Hedge-laying Coppicing Woodland management Regional co-ordinators have been actively promoting these courses and the funding available at every given opportunity. 2.4 Industry Development Programme. Activities under the Industry Development programme addressing the environment and climate change have included the following: 3 Diversification Seminars with a focus on Renewable Energy systems have been held since September 2011. At these meetings, farmers were given the opportunity to talk to Renewable Energy consultants and were able to consider whether installing a Renewable Energy system would be viable for their own farms. Some of the diversification seminars were held on farms where existing renewable energy systems were located. These events included a farm walk to see a working hydro scheme. As well as having the opportunity to discuss the developments with the farmer who had installed the Renewable Energy systems, Renewable Energy consultants were present to share information on various options to those present. Planning Surgeries - a vast number of queries dealt with by the Planning Consultant at Planning Surgeries involve renewable energy projects and the planning regulations which affect them. 6 “Focus on Business” events held in December 2012 and January 2013 included a presentation from a renewable energy consultant who provided an update on the latest in terms of investing in wind, hydro, solar or heat source systems. 12 drop in sessions were held during spring 2012, whereby farmers had the opportunity to assess the suitability of the Glastir scheme for their farm. One to one sessions were offered with Welsh Government officials at these events. Between February and July 2013, 53 events were held on the agri-environment scheme, Glastir. 36 of these were drop-in surgeries, where one-to-one guidance was provided for farmers considering applying for Glastir Entry. The remaining 17 events were farm open days which included a farm walk and demonstrated practical ways of undertaking the various sustainable land management options. The importance of maintaining good agricultural and environmental conditions on farm is highlighted and promoted at all Industry Development events. 2.5 Agrisgôp The Agrisgôp programme has addressed topics relating to the Environment and Climate Change.
  10. 10. 10 Many Agrisgôp Leaders are facilitating groups considering renewable energy options including wind, solar and anaerobic digestors as means of carbon footprint reduction and increasing incomes. A group in mid Wales are specifically considering the reduction of the greenhouse effect through evaluating their business‟s carbon footprint. One pan Wales Agrisgôp group with strong ties to the Wildlife Trust organisation are exploring marketing opportunities linked to sustainable farming systems. 3. Environmental and Climate Change – future activity Table 3 below illustrates the planned activity on the Environment and Climate Change during the period 1st September 2013 onwards Environment and Climate Change topic Delivery Mechanism Action/Aim Renewable energy feasibility Renewable energy feasibility studies will be provided and promoted via the Whole Farm Plan. It is anticipated that the Energy/Water Audits undertaken on the demonstration farm network will identify opportunities for energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies A farm scale wind turbine feasibility study is scheduled to take place on one demonstration farm in conjunction with CAT Farming Connect trailer will visit livestock markets across Wales and will promote the availability of funding. Farm renewable energy options, and the availability of funding toward feasibility studies will be promoted at Shows and events Farming Connect attend during the remainder of the contract. Nutrient Management planning NMP will be promoted via the Farm Advisory Service and again in Gwlad where the benefits have been promoted previously Nutrient management planning undertaken on network of demonstration farms with subsequent events to promote business and environmental benefits of NMPs. This will continue on newly recruited Demonstration Farms Improving environmental compliance Demonstration Farm Network Open Days Workshops Thorough Environmental Reviews are currently being undertaken on all Demonstration Farms, the aim of the reviews is to provide confidential, one to one advice and guidance to Farming Connect Demonstration Farmers on environmental management in line with regulatory cross compliance – this includes FYM/Slurry storage, silage, clean-dirty water, fuel oil etc. The reviews also provide the opportunity for the identification of projects that promote best practice and
  11. 11. 11 that emphasise to farmers the business benefits of good regulatory compliance which will be featured at future events In 2013 there will also be events providing practical information to farmers on the business benefits of good regulatory compliance. The aim is to provide practical information to farmers on an aspect of environmental management, for example, the construction and compliance of slurry and silage storage systems, clean/dirty water separation etc Renewable energy events Discussion Group Meetings Demonstration Farm Project Farm events Merched y Maes A number of activities, including discussion groups and on farm events will address climate change and discuss the suitability and feasibility of renewable energy. These events will provide information and develop knowledge on renewable energy technology. A renewable energy demonstration farm project looking at wind production is planned. Renewable energy clinics These clinics will provide one-to-one farm specific independent information on renewable energy technology. Resource efficiency – water and energy Audits are underway on the network of demonstration farms In 2014, events will be arranged with the aim of raising awareness and providing information of opportunities to reduce energy/water use and increase energy/water efficiency. Soil management Workshops which aim to raise awareness and develop knowledge of the economic benefits of adopting a targeted approach to fertilizer use and managing the use of nitrogen fertilizer and slurry/manure to reduce levels of GHG emissions and have taken place across Wales in early 2013 and will be repeated with new farmer groups in winter 2013 Good soil management which is key to profiting from fertilisers, manures and new leys will also be included in event planning in 2014 Grassland management and utilisation Demonstration Farm Open day One off farm events Events promoting the benefits of grassland based farming systems through reseeding and sward renovation, the utilisation of new varieties, control
  12. 12. 12 Discussion group meetings of weeds and use of clovers for more efficient livestock production and effective nutrient management will be included in the programme for 2014. The optimum utilisation of grassland has never been more important with the cost of purchased feed and fertiliser higher than ever. The aim is to promote the benefits of grassland based farming systems and efficient use of grass to improve profitability and increase sustainability. In addition events and activities to enable farmers to reduce their reliance on brought in feeds and to provide information and develop knowledge on: silage management to reduce dry matter losses/improving silage yield and making the silage nutritive value for the stock fedto increase profit and improve efficiency. growing and feeding homegrown crops including establishing and utilising forage crops, cropping to reduce winter feed costs and highlighting the benefits which include extending feeding supplies, reducing overall feeding costs and meeting environmental targets Farm woodland Technical Articles The importance of farm woodland to the environment. Technical Articleswill include: The importance of streamside corridors. Fact Sheets A range of fact sheets will consider environment and climate change issues including: Identification of pestsin grassland and forage crops Good welfare of outwintered cattle FITS and farming – a selection of case studies Bumble bees and pollinating insects - why are they important? Biomass heating systems Biodiversity and animal health Buildings and yards - guidance on SAFFO and building and yard design to optimise performance Impact of climate change in Wales on crop pest, weeds and disease Growing maize under plastic – report of Guddr Demo Farm Project Impact of climate change in Wales on disease and animal health