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Emissions tools at arable finger tips

FAR has released a greenhouse gas emissions calculator and a greenhouse gas emissions planning module for arable farmers.

With the simultaneous release of these two, bespoke, tools arable farmers quite literally have everything they need to meet their greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting and planning commitments at their fingertips.

Obligations around agricultural greenhouse gas emissions understanding and management are being phased in via the He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) industry-government partnership, and arable, as well as livestock, farms are expected to comply.

The first step for all farm businesses is to know their annual total on-farm biological greenhouse gas emissions (their ‘number’) and to have a written plan to manage emissions. A quarter of New Zealand farm businesses must know their number and have a plan by the end of this year. That expectation expands to all farmers knowing their number by the end of 2022 and all having a written plan by the end of 2024.

It’s a big ask, and it’s why FAR developed the two newly released tools, says FAR’s Turi McFarlane.

“This is new territory and most farmers won’t have much of an idea of their ‘number’, or how to calculate it. At FAR, we were determined to make the process as easy as possible for our growers which is why we developed E-Check, a spreadsheet based GHG calculator and the GHG farm planning module. E-Check and the GHG Module go hand-in-hand and will allow growers to meet their reporting and planning obligations using existing data and without great effort or expense.”

Turi says a number of GHG emissions calculators have been approved by He Waka Eke Noa, but that E-Check, developed by fellow FAR researcher, Dirk Wallace, is unique in that it has been designed entirely with the arable industry in mind.

“We needed a simple emissions calculator for arable that allowed growers to know their emissions numbers with minimal inputs and time. The result is E-Check, a DIY tool that uses easy to access information around farm size, fertiliser applied and stocking units on and off, to calculate the farm’s GHG ‘number’. Once growers have identified their number, they can move on to completing their written management plan using FAR’s Greenhouse Gas Planning Module.”

Turi says anyone who is acquainted with FAR’s existing Farm Environment Plan (FEP) templates will find the layout of the new GHG module very familiar, and that the GHG new module will form part of any larger FEP or Integrated Farm Plan. As with the FEP template, the GHG module leads growers through a process of assessing risks and identifying mitigations.

“Once the risks and management practices that contribute to GHG emissions and carbon storage on farm have been assessed, growers can move on to the next steps; identifying opportunities for improvement, developing an action plan and pulling together documents to support the plan and provide evidence that changes are happening.”

E-Check and the Greenhouse Gas Farm Planning Module, along with written and video user guides are available on the FAR website www.far.org.nz/environment.