The UK’s crop production Climate Change Champion 2022 has been revealed. Tom Allen-Stevens reports.

Michael Kavanagh has been awarded the accolade of CPM Climate Change Champion 2022.

A keen advocate of regenerative agriculture and one of the founder farmers of the Green Farm Collective, he was selected by CPM readers from seven growers whose progress on their journey to net zero has been profiled in the magazine.

Michael’s been improving soil health through reduced cultivations, cover cropping and integrating sheep into the 245ha business, DGF & MAM Thompson Farms, he manages near Wolverhampton in the West Midlands.

Having measured his progress through Sandy, by Trinity AgTech, confirming he’s comfortably climate-positive, he became one of the first farmers in the UK to trade carbon earlier this year.

Full details of Michael’s farming system and his progress to net zero were featured in CPM March 2022 issue.

Michael was announced as the overall carbon-friendly crop production farmer of 2022 by NFU deputy president Tom Bradshaw at a round table event, organised by CPM, on Thursday 3 November.

Climate Change Champion winner Michael Kavanagh (left) and NFU deputy president Tom Bradshaw.

The event was kindly hosted at Bank Farm, near Ashford, Kent, by CPM Climate Change Champion 2021 Doug Wanstall, who took attendees on a tour of the farm to showcase some of the diverse enterprises he undertakes to help sequester carbon and reduce emissions.

The round table event brought together the experiences of 10 progressive farmers as well as views from across the arable sector on priorities for 2023 and beyond. The initiative, supported by the NFU, is now in its third year and aligns with the industry-wide ambition for UK Agriculture to reach Net Zero by 2040.

Tom Bradshaw congratulated the farmers on their achievements, noting there are many others around the country also taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“This event shows that we have in the UK some incredible and very passionate farmers running some brilliant businesses,” he said.

“The industry faces some real challenges and there are questions and uncertainties around issues such as carbon markets, for example. These farmers have not only shone a beacon to where others can head as they progress to net zero, but they continue to pioneer, to take the risks that we’ll all benefit from. To my mind, that’s what makes them true champions.”

The round table event brought together the experiences of 10 progressive farmers as well as views from across the arable sector on priorities for 2023 and beyond.

After the presentation of the award to Michael, Tom joined in discussion with the ten farmers present. This then opened to wider conversation with representatives from Climate Change Champion sponsors BASF, BKT, Interagro, Lloyds Bank, Small Robot Company and Trinity AgTech.

Attendees considered how arable farming can capitalise on the opportunities of climate change, looking at three key areas:

  • Productivity push, with a key focus on nutrient use efficiency
  • Cultivation care, looking in particular at sequestering soil carbon with confidence
  • Biobased boldness, focusing on societal benefits beyond carbon

Full coverage of the event will be published in the December 2022 issue of CPM. Subscribe here.