In light of a recent EC Decision over livestock emissions we take a look at just how much cutting carbon can increase profits in farming.
Many in the agricultural sector were relieved at the European Commission’s decision not to amend the thresholds for poultry and pigs or to include cattle in the Industrial Emissions Directive. There are, however, concerns that EU measures may be introduced for manure spreading and for combustion plants of less than 50MW, though at present the European Commission plans only to instigate an investigation into such measures.
Whilst the decision certainly removes the pressure for many livestock farmers it is important that we do not forget the benefits that improved energy efficiency can bring, including significant cost savings.
What are the cost savings of reducing carbon?
It is thought that around 30% of carbon emissions related to beef production come from the use of fertiliser on fields and that a further 40% comes from methane (www.diaryco.org.uk). Of course the actual areas of a farm where carbon emissions are greatest will vary between farms and in recent years a number of organisations have developed tools to help farmers identify areas to prioritise carbon reduction.
One such organisation is Eblex who conducted a study of 60 beef and sheep farms to determine the potential financial benefits of reducing carbon emissions in livestock farming. Their research found that for every 1Kg cut in carbon emissions per Kg of liveweight lamb farmers managed to increase profit margins by 28p. There was an increase of 50p for every 5Kg cut in carbon emissions per Kg of beef.
Achieving a reduction in your carbon footprint doesn’t have to involve major changes either. The Carbon Trust suggests that in processing plants energy savings of up to 20% can be made by making simple changes like switching off equipment that it is not in use or insulating pipes.
It is advisable to speak with an energy consultant from our team who will be able to create a detailed energy profile of your business and make recommendations that you may not have considered. Monitoring is also a great way to identify the energy-intensive areas of your business, as you can track the consumption of water, gas, oil or LPG and electricity usage, in addition to the consumption of individual devices and equipment.
If you work in the livestock industry you may be interested in energy-efficiency measures like intelligent LED lighting, which can reduce electricity consumption by as much as 80%. Other options include on-site generation from biomass or solar PV. There are numerous technologies to choose from and they don’t just apply to livestock farms; any business can benefit from reduced energy consumption through simple energy-efficiency measures.