With the quest now on to find the UK’s arable Climate Change Champions CPM looks at who should get involved.

Net Zero isn’t a journey farmers face on their own. It’s one that unites the entire UK farming industry towards a common goal.

By Tom Allen-Stevens

While the discussion over climate change could be said to be heating up faster than the global warming that lies at the heart of the issue, there appears to be one crucial element missing: those who will provide the solutions.

This is where a brand-new initiative, delivered by CPM, is set to step in. We’re working with industry partners to find UK Farming’s Climate Change Champions – those with the ideas, the progressive outlook and the determination to shape positive change.

UK Farming’s Climate Change Champions will be those with the ideas, the progressive outlook and the determination to shape positive change.

It follows hot on the heels of the recent launch of NFU’s Achieving Net Zero report, for which president Minette Batters said she recognised British Farming’s “unique position as both a source and a store for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and, importantly, how [farmers] can build on their work so far to deliver climate-neutral farming in the next 20 years.”

So who are these farmers? We believe they currently have their eyes set on this very page, although their minds will be racing with pioneering solutions for what’s described as “the single biggest issue facing humanity”. All you have to do is step forward and nominate yourself.

Throughout 2020, we’ll be profiling in CPM a shortlist of candidates, selected from those nominees by a judging panel. Specifically, we’re looking for arable farmers with:

  • Inspirational ideas – more than anything, this is the opportunity for those with innovative practices or novel thinking to come forward and show how these help the journey towards Net Zero.
  • Productivity push – those using a wide variety of techniques to enhance productivity and deliver the same output or more, and those working smarter to use fewer inputs.
  • Cultivation care – those using measures to build soil organic matter and lock carbon into the land, which may involve cultivation practice, a change in rotation or alternative land use.
  • Bio-based boldness – farmers who have implemented measures or activities that positively displace the use of fossil fuel or other causes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions elsewhere in society. Examples include anaerobic digesters, solar and wind and alternative uses for agricultural products that lock up carbon.

In October 2020, CPM readers will get the opportunity to vote for who they think should be Climate Change Champion 2020, and the overall winner of this mighty accolade will be announced next December.

But Net Zero isn’t a journey farmers face on their own. It’s one that unites the entire UK farming industry towards a common goal. So if the industry is to make a palpable difference towards Net Zero, it will be through a partnership approach of farmers working with their suppliers. That’s why CPM is working with companies who have a credible Net Zero offering and are sponsoring Climate Change Champions.

Representatives from these thought-leading companies will form the judging panel to select the candidates we’ll be profiling in CPM. While some companies have yet to confirm their involvement, Sarah Ferrie of adjuvant experts Interagro has noticed how the impact of rapid global warming has become more and more evident and compelling to the industry. “The stark reality now is that climate change is here and it’s the biggest environmental challenge facing civilisation,” she says.

“As the NFU has stated, British farmers, alongside industry, will be crucial in laying the building blocks that will deliver solutions for climate change. The CPM Climate Change Champions initiative is the perfect platform for industry and farmers to embark on the long journey together.

“It will be up to companies like ours to develop innovations that enable farmers to continue to produce the high quality food that’s required for a growing population, alongside a backdrop of regulatory and resistance challenges. But we’re reliant on farmers on the frontline of climate change to embrace and integrate them. It’s up to all of us to help farmers farm smarter, to focus on improving productivity, encourage carbon capture and generate renewable energy.”

British farmers are the best in the world when it comes to innovating, problem-solving and finding their own solutions, continues Sarah. “Climate Change Champions is about heroing the thought leaders already on a journey to fighting climate change. But every farm will start the journey to Net Zero from a different place, so this initiative is also about sharing what’s possible.”

Climate Change Champions is very much aligned to Interagro’s future strategy, adds managing director Emma Ralph. “We’re really excited to be supporting this as it’s our responsibility to embrace the issues and help farmers achieve the Net Zero targets they are facing.”

on farm and how it can be implemented and even measured. What better way than for farmers to hear from other farmers and for the UK Ag industry to learn how it can help better position itself as the solution to climate change.”

Martin Hamer of agricultural equipment company Fendt believes a Climate Change Champion is someone who truly makes the best use of resources available to them. “You’ll always consider business viability into any decision you make, but you’ll also always strive to leave the land in a better state than you found it,” he notes.

“Climate change should factor into the top line of any business discussion, and farmers know this better than anyone. They are the ones who deal daily with the natural resources of soil, air and water. As an agricultural machinery manufacturer, it’s our job to enable farmers to use these natural tools of their trade with greater efficiency, more control and higher precision. With the best technical solutions, delivering the highest quality, our machines should also help farmers document and justify, look back at their decisions and help them make a more informed choice.”

For Martin, Climate Change Champions is about people who not only know the cost per hour of operating a machine, but its carbon cost, too. “These are the individuals who aren’t necessarily making every ha productive, but are using every ha for the right purpose. They’re the ones with the good ideas and they’re prepared to share them. But they’re honest and prepared to share the disasters, too.”

Above all else, Dr Kirsty Richards at KWS is looking for novel thinking in a Climate Change Champion. “Innovation is at the heart of everything we do at KWS. The goal of our breeding program is to provide farmers with precisely those varieties that meet their operational needs,” she says.

“Perhaps our biggest challenge for the future is to maintain our product ideals in the face of climate change. Weather extremes such as regional drought and flooding are expected to increase in the future. This increases the risks of sustained heat, cold, drought and wet weather that could lead to crop failures.”

With a variety pipeline that has to anticipate growers’ needs some 10-12 years in advance – the time it takes to bring an initial cross to market – Kirsty’s keen to work with growers who have an eye on the future and anticipate Society’s future needs. “Against this background, KWS plant breeders are working on new, adapted varieties, to ensure the stability of agricultural yields. A Climate Change Champion not only recognises when it’s time to change, but in which direction to go.”

This initiative isn’t just about crowning a champion, however, nor even about highlighting best practice. There is so much that is unknown with climate change – the opportunities could be vast as much as the challenges are daunting. The world is just beginning to feel its way on that journey, the UK is putting itself forward as a leading nation, and UK Farming has presented itself as providers of the solutions. But it will be individual pioneers who will show the way – all you have to do is step forward.

Climate Change Champions

UK Farming has set itself the challenging target of Net Zero emissions by 2040. Although led by the NFU, it will take the entire industry, working together in a partnership approach to meet this ambitious goal.

But there are individual growers, thought leaders who have already started on this journey. They have the ideas, the progressive outlook and the determination to shape positive change. CPM has teamed up with leading agricultural suppliers who have a credible Net Zero aspiration to identify these individuals and bring them into the top-level discussion about how farming can position itself as the solution to climate change.

We’re inviting arable farmers who feel they can meet the challenge of Net Zero to step forward and nominate themselves to this worthy role. CPM readers will then get the chance to decide who will be awarded the accolade of Climate Change Champion 2020.

There’s more here on the award, the initiative behind it, sponsor and nomination details.

To nominate yourself for Climate Change Champion 2020 – please click here