Supply and demand precisely delivers GHG reductions

Precision equipment to make best use of fertilisers and manures is being demanded by farmers, and contractors are stepping up to deliver the technology, reports a new Greenhouse Gas Action Plan (GHGAP) and NAAC (National Association of Agricultural Contractors) survey.

80 per cent of contractors reported that customers have been asking about precision equipment over the past three years.Contractors were also asked about communication with their customers, in particular how they got information about each new field they took on. Over three-quarters had spoken to the client and/or familiarised themselves with the new situation by walking the field. Over half asked for soil or nutrient maps with one-third providing the mapping service themselves.

Jennifer Donn, Executive Officer at the NAAC, said: “It’s great to see contractors leading the way in the use of precision technology, offering their customers access to the latest equipment without a large outlay. The use of precision equipment is becoming more main-stream in farming, but one of the challenges for contractors is identifying the right time to invest. This is why the customer-contractor relationship is so important, working together means contractors can invest in the right equipment when their customers demand it, meaning a stronger business for both.”

Of those contractors spreading solid inorganic fertilisers, 88 per cent use precision technology and although only 24 per cent of respondents were spreading slurry and/or digestate, almost two-thirds of them utilise precision application methods.

Questions about soil management revealed that over half of the machines in operation have some type of low ground pressure tyres or tracks. When quizzed about tillage services more than 90 per cent use some form of minimum tillage, with 50 per cent offering no-till and over a third using controlled traffic farming options.

Tamara Hill, GHGAP co-ordinator, said: “Precision farming makes a strong contribution to reducing the ‘carbon’ footprint of agriculture. Fine tuning nutrient applications and management to crop need or using ‘low ground pressure’ tyres or tracks are likely to improve soil quality and productivity and so reduce the quantity of GHGs produced per unit of output. The GHGAP would like to thank all the contractors and farmer-contractors for answering the survey. It will really help us demonstrate the progress made by the range of businesses involved in agriculture in tackling climate change.”

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