Ten farms join the race to reach net zero as part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and Nidderdale AONB Farm Carbon Project

Ten Yorkshire farms are undergoing a ‘carbon audit’ as part of a project to help them reach net zero.

The Bowes are taking part in the Farm Carbon Project

Every aspect of the businesses which are in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (YDNP) and Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) will be assessed as part of the Farm Carbon Project, with one farmer saying she is “enthusiastic” about it.

Jenny Bowes, who is originally from Hunton in Richmondshire, now farms at Ghyll Bank, near Orton, Cumbria, with her husband Lenny, will be taking part in the audit with farming social enterprise, Farm Carbon Toolkit.

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The audit will look at feed, fertiliser, slurry and diesel as well as assessing the possibilities for carbon sequestration, the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide.

The couple took over the tenancy of the farm last year and Mrs Bowes said they wanted to look at creating a sustainable future for the business and the planet.

“We want to know how we can reduce our carbon emissions, and how we can do that while maintaining and improving the business,” she said. “We are concerned about the future of the environment and we just want to make it better.” Mr and Mrs Bowes run a flock of 1,000 sheep, 70 suckler cows and six sows, as well as Christmas turkeys on 600 acres of grassland.

Findings from the audit will form a plan to help each farm taking part become more sustainable and move towards net zero carbon dioxide emissions.

The Bowes are already using a pasture-fed system, stitching herbal leys and wildflowers into the grassland to deepen roots and improve soil. They have also planted trees and are planning to begin restoring three wildflower meadows.

Mr Bowes, who is from Lower Wensleydale, said they try to farm regeneratively but needed a better understanding of how they affect the carbon footprint.

He said: “We’re hoping that by next year we’ll have the information we need to put together an action plan to make changes.”

The Farm Carbon Project, which has carried out audits on four farms, is being funded by Yorkshire Water, which runs the Beyond Nature initiative supporting its tenant farmers to work with nature, and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA), along with a £5,000 contribution from the North Yorkshire and York Local Enterprise Partnership.

YDNP authority member Champion for the Natural Environment, Ian McPherson, said: “The farms that are participating in the Farm Carbon Project are spread across the Yorkshire Dales and Nidderdale AONB and cover the main types of farming. There is excitement among all the project partners about what could be achieved.

“Farming needs to find a way towards ‘net zero’ and this project is going to help us chart the path.”

“Farm businesses can’t manage their carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions without first understanding and measuring them,” explained Nidderdale AONB Beyond Nature Farming Officer, Neil Pickard.

“Gathering the necessary data can be daunting for farmers, because there is always so much else to do.

“The overall aim is to encourage and support farmers to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, increase their farm energy resilience and in doing so improve their farm business efficiency and profitability.”