Carbon emissions and Carbon footprint research
The focus of our research is to help reduce carbon emissions by decarbonising our energy supply in order to help meet national GHG emissions targets. Renewable energy sources (biomass crops, anaerobic digestion, solar) can also make a significant contribution towards the renewable electricity and heat targets. However currently, there are uncertainties regarding the level of emissions and the impact of changes in farming practices on emissions from renewable energy crops and technologies. There are also concerns over conflicts between land used for fuel rather than food and the real GHG emissions associated with the production and use of crops to produce electricity and/or heat.
Our research examines and monitors GHG emissions at enterprise level to demonstrate the impact of the adoption of a renewable energy scheme. The work also determines the contribution of livestock, land, land use change, forestry, fertiliser and fossil fuels to the overall carbon footprint. This is enabling farmers and land managers to identify:
1. Knowledge gaps in enterprise farm scale carbon management and GHG emissions.
- Provide data for a land use management decision tool for GHG balance under biomass crops.
- Provide baseline figures of annual carbon emissions, efficiency of energy use on the site and lifetime contribution to carbon savings.
2. Evidence for ways that agriculture can contribute to carbon savings and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions:
Carbon footprint calculations and life cycle analysis will reflect the monetary benefits by changing energy sources that will result in reducing GHG emissions and carbon intensity.
Carbon dioxide exchange as a measure of soil C dynamics
This research focuses on the impact of land cultivation (for eg energy crop, grassland etc) on carbon dioxide (CO2) exchange by monitoring fluxes of CO2 using an Eddy Covariance flux system. The output of this study is the provision of key data to be included in C footprint calculations to quantify how these practices contribute to the overall GHG budget of production farming systems.