ARC Zero, has announced that it has been awarded its next support through a competitive process, from the £3.5m Carbon Innovation Fund. This fund is a partnership between the Co-op and the Co-op Foundation, and the very welcome new funding will allow ARC Zero to continue its drive towards net-zero farming. ARC Zero was initially set up as a farmer-led EIP Project, co-funded by DAERA and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
ARC Zero would like to publicly thank the Carbon Innovation Fund and its partners, the Co-op and the Co-op Foundation for this significant funding and for putting their faith in the concept of farmer-led innovation.
At ARC Zero’s conference in June, the group shared their findings from the original three-year EIP study. This showed that when farmers are given precise information about their own farm, they make positive changes and actively work towards reducing their GHG emissions and increasing their carbon stocks. The study also showed that when farms' carbon positions are calculated on their net carbon position, offsetting emissions against carbon sequestration, most farms are much better off, with some already beyond net zero. For those wanting to know more, ARC Zero has now made available a video of the conference which can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uQ6UEJRxpk
Speaking at the conference Arc Zero Chair, John Gilliland, thanked the EIP Scheme and its funders, for their financial support which allowed the project to get this far, but stressed the need for the project to continue.
“We want to continue to prove to society that if you give farmers a chance if you unshackle them and you empower them, they will deliver what society wants - as long as society recognises that they also need to make a living.”
To this end, Arc Zero is looking forward to starting this new work with the Carbon Innovation Fund, where members will look at ways to reduce the use of synthetic nitrogen and imported soya meal by growing nitrogen-fixing legumes (red and white clover combined with ryegrass or in multi-species swards) while ensuring soils are at the optimum pH of 6.5.
Speaking about the launch of the fund, Arc Zero Vice Chair Patrick Casement said
“It's fantastic to be able to continue innovating as part of Arc Zero. As well as being nitrogen fixing, legumes have a higher protein content than grasses and so should enable our farmers to reduce the level of protein in feeds, which is generally provided by soya meal.
“Apart from the reductions in the use of synthetic nitrogen and soya, we will be looking out for wider environmental benefits, including soil health, biodiversity, and water quality.”
More information on the Carbon Innovation Fund is available at: https://www.coopfoundation.org.uk/blog/carbon-innovation-fund-round-two-2/