Rhug Estate is conducting a pioneering project to measure and monitor our carbon footprint across our entire farm business, to help better understand the impact of land use. The estate covers 12,500 acres in North Wales, straddling Denbighshire and Gwynedd. The 6,700 acre in-hand organic farm in Denbighshire is the geographical core of the estate.
The estate operates a diverse business model - one that embraces sustainable organic farming, renewable energy, retail, wholesale and most recently, skincare. Our farm shop in Corwen sells a variety of produce, including organic beef, lamb, chicken, and a new organic skincare range.
Meanwhile, Rhug Energy Ltd – the estate’s green energy company - operates solar, wind and hydro- electric technologies across our sites. We also support the alternative fuel movement by providing Pod-Point electric car charging facilities. All our takeaway and drive-thru packaging is fully compostable or recyclable.
And in 2016, we won a Footprint Award for the ‘Sustainable Use of Natural Resources’ through our renewable heat and power generation.
We feel that it is important to set out a clear road map for the future. Climate change is our biggest threat. We want to promote sustainability to help create a better future for the next generation.
The main aim of the project is to measure and monitor the carbon footprint of the whole estate, including the main in-hand and let farms, the Farm Shop, Takeaway, Drive Thru and Café, our meat processing plant, and Wild Beauty, with the aim of reaching net zero across all business operations within Rhug.
We have taken our first steps and have measured the carbon footprint of Rhug Organic Farm and Ty Mawr Farm using the Farm Carbon Calculator (FCC). From this, we have discovered that the early results of our analysis show that Rhug Organic Farm is currently in a carbon negative position, which is incredibly promising, as we collect data for the rest of the estate.
Alongside this, we are equally as interested in our carbon sequestration – which is a method of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide. We are using a specialist service provider to test our soils for organic matter density.
We have already come to a key conclusion that small changes in soil organic matter content have a significant carbon measurement impact.
For example, livestock accounts for 80 per cent of our emissions. What we call plant and machinery (including renewables) accounts for 12 per cent, and crop residues and fertilisers are responsible for two per cent. We have learnt that our annual carbon balance amounts to a surplus of around 400 tonnes of Co2e.
The data we’re collecting is being used to make necessary modifications to our carbon management, as we look to reach the Welsh Government’s target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The farming industry needs to come up with a standard calculator for farmers to measure carbon levels on their land.
We looked into many different farm carbon calculators (there are many available) and found that the Farm Carbon Calculator (FCC) was best suited to Rhug Organic Farm. This is primarily because it’s very user-friendly.
The team behind the calculator are very supportive and provide useful resources on their website. Choosing the right calculator can seem overwhelming for farmers and could be a barrier when it comes to measuring their carbon footprint. Therefore, an industry standard calculator used by all would be very helpful.