Thursday 30 March had been dubbed ‘Green Day’, with the Government due to reveal its plans to increase energy security and deliver net zero by 2050. But, says the Soil Association (SA), the strategy revealed a ‘disappointing’ lack of action on decarbonizing the UK’s farming sector.

Gareth Morgan, head of farming policy at the SA, criticizes the Government’s approach, saying its carbon capture strategy ignores a key aspect: soil.

“It’s shocking that the Government’s so-called ‘Green Day’ brings zero in the way of new policies to transform 70% of the UK – its farmland. This is even more concerning the day after the Climate Change Committee revealed the failure to prepare the UK for climate change.

“Why is the Government failing to implement the best solutions for reaching net zero? Farmers are on the front line dealing with increasingly volatile weather, and they hold so many answers through agroecological, nature-friendly farming like organic.

Why is the Government failing to implement the best solutions for reaching net zero?

“A key solution is combining trees with crops and livestock in agroforestry. More trees on farms would capture carbon and provide a habitat for our depleted wildlife. They also boost farm resilience through shade, shelter and healthy soils that capture carbon and protect against floods and drought.

“Government must incentivize a farmer-led tree revolution and a whole-farm focus on restoring soil to absorb rather than release carbon, using the example already being set by agroecological and organic farmers across the country.”

The Government’s revised decarbonization strategy is outlined in its document Powering Up Britain, described by Grant Shapps, Energy Secretary, as ‘the Government’s blueprint for the future of energy in this country’.

The document makes one mention of farming under the heading Natural Resources, Waste and F-gasses: “We have set out 25 measures that are in the agriculture net zero pathway, many of which have already been developed and introduced through the Environmental Land Management schemes, Farming Investment Fund, and Farming Innovation Programme.”