Many colleges and universities have large agricultural landholdings, totalling more than 35,000 hectares in the UK, most is used for commercial purposes, including being let out to tenant farmers that are using conventional farming practices. UK universities are also passing progressive net-zero carbon reduction targets but in most cases not yet including their farmland. Despite these ambitious targets universities will still need to continue to attract international students and conducting overseas research leaving residual scope 3 emissions.
We hope this sector changing scheme will be of real value in addressing the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis as well as increasing farm resilience and food security.
Farming for Carbon & Nature aims to set up an innovative model where we incentivise universities to make payments to farms so they can transition to more nature friendly farming practices to sequester carbon. Nature friendly farming methods will be adopted such as minimum or no till, direct drilling, cover crops, perennials and green manures. These methods maximise carbon sequestration, biodiversity and soil health.
Our incentive is that we will provide opportunities for students to take annual soil samples from farms and test them for carbon in university labs so there will be clear data showing how much carbon has been sequestered as a result of farms farming more nature friendly farming practices. The carbon sequestered will help universities reach their net-zero targets. We will also involve students in biodiversity monitoring on the farms as well as nutrient density testing of food produced on the farms. This meets the triple challenges of the climate, nature and health crises we face.
See our latest FCN progress report to read about our progress towards the following goals: improving farm soil health & increasing soil carbon, improving farm wildlife & biodiversity, increasing student access to the natural world, and creating a credible and viable financial model for delivery post pilot.
This work is funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and the Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund (NEIRF).
If you would like to be kept up to date on the progress of Farming for Carbon & Nature, or have any questions, please email us.
December 21, 2022
Read about How Farming Can Cool The Planet, a new project aimed at uniting young people to highlight the need for equal access to sustainable, nutritious and affordable food.
October 7, 2022
The new Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund project at SOS-UK
May 4, 2022
How food is produced is critical. When farms adopt climate and nature friendly farming practices, carbon can be stored, soil health can increase and nature can be restored.
April 26, 2022
We’re applying for funding to run a pilot programme bringing people, plants and wildlife onto UK university and college campuses – would you like your university or college to be part of it?
March 2, 2022
The Field Studies Council are offering discounts for SOS-UK student networks on their practical biodiversity training