New tool to help farmers count the cost of reducing emissions

6Aug2010

‘Is solar or a turbine better for my farm?
Would fuel and nutrient efficiencies have more impact than renewables anyway? At the end of the day, what can I afford?’ These are all valid and common questions farmers are asking themselves as the industry tries to reach the 11% emission reduction target. The good news is that there is a new research project, at the University of Surrey, that could help make the decisions easier.


‘Bayesian Networks to support Greenhouse Gas Emission reduction in the Agricultural Sector’(BaNGAS) aims to assist farmers in finding cost-effective means of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from their farm. The research will generate estimates of a farm’s environmental account using Defra data and then develop different scenarios for how to reduce emissions. Each scenario will have cost implications attached to ensure you are able to make well informed and profitable decisions.

Defra’s 2008 UK Agriculture report showed that environmental measures have both costs and benefits. It is therefore important to ensure that the costs of reducing GHG emissions are weighed up before making any decisions. And so BaNGAS was born...

Using estimation models BaNGAS will generate different scenarios for reducing GHG emissions at the farm level. One example shows the GHG emissions produced by two farms – a mixed farm and the same farm, but powered by renewable energy. In this example the model showed that, although using renewable reduces emissions, the cost implications can make the option impractical. Looking at alternative scenarios for the same farm, the research suggested that it is possible to achieve a 25% reduction in the farm’s emissions by deploying different land management measures, i.e. through a 15% reduction in the use of fertilisers, a 49% increase in the level of carbon sequestered through appropriate land management  practices, and by replacing the use of fertilisers with manure or slurry.

This is only an example based on publicly available data. If the research is to be of practical use to farmers, more farm level data is needed and the models need to be tested on real farm businesses.

If you’re interested in the project, the BaNGAS team can offer you a range of information and support:

  • A tool to help understand the positive/negative impact of your environmental efforts on the farm’s business.
  • Scenarios to help you decide which mitigation method will be more cost effective.
  • The opportunity to optimise your business with regards to GHG emissions, taking into account the farm’s emission sources, and potential for carbon storage linked to land use and management, energy consumption and livestock.

Are you interested in ensuring the GHG emissions reductions being requested of the farming community are based on sound economy? If so, do get in touch.

Dr Elena Pérez-Miñana - Phone 01256 783575 Mobile 07909773912
Email  elena.perezminana@btinternet.com (Mon - Wed – Fri, 10 am to  4 pm)

Dr Elena Pérez-Miñana works at Faculty of Engineering & Physical Sciences at the
University of Surrey and is involved in the BaNGAS research.

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