In Jan 2021, Trent Brown was named the overall winner of the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) and Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster (YFCU) climate change competition. Trent lives on a farm consisting of 100 cows and 8,000 laying hens and has recognised the ways in which farming activities can contribute to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. He has undertaken a number of measures to ensure that this is reduced by increasing efficiency of his herd and farming practices.
Trent has been improving the genetic stock of his herd of cows by careful sire selection to increase the efficiency of his herd which has led to lower GHG releases. Animal feed is closely monitored and controlled so as there is no wastage, increasing efficiency and having a better environmental performance. Soil samples are taken every year to determine the fertiliser usage across the farm. Low emission techniques of slurry spreading are then used from trail and shoe slurry spreading to high tech GPS sensors to make sure that slurry and fertiliser goes where it is needed, reducing waste, time in the field spreading and emissions of GHGs. He also use egg shells to reseed ground instead of lime, reducing the demand for mined lime and utilising a by product of his egg production business.
Trent has planted trees on his farm to sequester and store carbon on his farm. The trees will take in more and more carbon as they grow to help offset emissions from his farm. Likewise, Trent has allowed the hedgerows on his farm to grow taller and wider.
Trent has also included renewable energy on his farm, he has 80 solar panels which provide a third of the farms energy. He also has a wood chip burner which provides heat and water for his house. He is already thinking of the next steps to reduce emissions from his farm, by wanting to install a wind turbine to generate more renewable electricity.
All these systems offer effective steps that farmers can take to reduce energy consumption, increase sequestration rates and help to make farming more efficient and environmentally friendly.
This initiative has been an interesting one to look at. As a business, we did in depth research into the methods of slurry spreading and what we could do for the environment. We found good information from both studies online and from other farmers experiences discussed in farming groups. Some organisations that I have come across and have found helpful in providing advice for farming and the environment include grassroots and Ulster Farmers Union, these have been very informative and bring across ideas that perhaps you wouldn’t normally think off. After a business trip to England looking at the benefits of planting native trees and the importance they have on the environment, this was a very helpful way to highlight the benefits of planting these on our farm.
As a farm, we have been working closely with the local Young Farmers clubs to spread the awareness of my initiative and highlight the importance of putting measures into place to help the environment as farmers. It is a hard initiative to always follow when things are busy on the farm but what I have learnt is that if you take that extra bit of time to do things properly and be more conscious of what you’re doing, you know you’re doing your part for the environment.
I believe that people shouldn’t do everything that we have put into our farm, instead do something to suit your own farms, but as long as you start with the small and simple steps to do your part, other parts will follow.
- Animal feed is closely monitored and controlled so as there is no wastage.
- Fertiliser usage across the farm.
- Low emission techniques of slurry spreading are then used from trail and shoe slurry spreading to high tech GPS sensors to make sure that slurry and fertiliser goes where it is needed, reducing waste, time in the field spreading and emissions of GHGs.