Accelerating Ruminant Carbon Zero (ARCZero) ) is a farmer-led, European Innovation Partnership Project made up of a co-operative of 7 farms across Northern Ireland from a diverse range of enterprises seeking to measure and manage carbon flows at the farm level in order to empower farmers to make positive change towards carbon zero farming.
Actual individual net farm GHG footprints are currently unknown as most current methodologies calculate gross GHG footprints for farm enterprises and do not accurately assess on farm carbon stocks and their potential for annual carbon sequestration.
In addition, current Life-Cycle Analysis (LCA) calculators focus mainly on enterprises, and not on a whole farm basis. The exceptions, such as SRUC’s AgReCalc, better reflect inter-enterprise transfers and allocations of overheads, allowing public claims to be made on any positive change that occurs.
ARCZero will focus on producing an accurate, individual, whole farm carbon balance sheet, through the precise measurement of the on-farm carbon stocks within soils and in trees and hedges. It will then combine the stocks with the results of the farm having been put through a whole business LCA calculator, to allow an accurate creation of a base-line GHG position. In doing so, this project intends to inform how farms across Northern Ireland could accelerate the move towards net carbon zero.
Having assessed the current carbon stocks and annual greenhouse gas position, future management practices will be examined and prioritised to identify the most impactful positive behaviour-change needed, while simultaneously making each business more economically resilient. The seven farm businesses' experience will be communicated to help inform other farms across Northern Ireland on how they might accelerate their move towards net zero carbon farming.
Each of the 7 commercial farms in the project consortium will supply output and input data for their whole farm to SAC Consulting who will run their data through SRUC’s AgReCalc calculator. This will be done at both the start and the end of the project, to see if positive change has taken place and if so, by how much.
Each farm will also undertake 2 GPS soil analyses, with the first analysis to 7.5cm depth covering pH, P & K (RPS providing the sampling & NRM providing the analysis) and the 2nd analysis to 30cm depth measuring carbon content and bulk density of the soil.
In addition a LiDAR survey and analysis to identify above ground Carbon storage and, routes of overland flow of excessive rainfall carrying with it, nutrients and soil, which then subsequently pollute our water courses will be undertaken for each farm. The data entered into the SRUC/SAC AgriCalc calculator will determine overall gross farm emissions, rather than the gross emissions from an individual enterprise.
The LCA results will then be added to the carbon stock results by Devenish to create a Net farm carbon balance for each farm. Future management practices will be assessed and the most impactful behaviours identified & agreed.