Archive for Farming

Strawberry surprise

Is far flung fruit better for the environment?

Is far flung fruit better for the environment?

We’ve alluded to the idea that “food miles” need to be treated with caution elsewhere. Here’s another example: the Co-operative Group’s annual sustainability report contains details of a “life-cycle” analysis (LCA) of the amount of embedded carbon in a humble 400g punnet of strawberries.

The domestic “Ava” offering, grown at Blairgowrie farm in Scotland, contains 850g of carbon. The alternative “Sabrosa” strawberries, from Spain, contain only 600g of carbon. If you’re basing your purchase decision solely on global warming impact you should buy the Spanish version. Read the rest of this entry »

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A good place to bury bad news

Lovelock proposes the world's biggest barbecue

Lovelock proposes the world's biggest barbecue. Photo (c) Peter Guess

Carbon sequestration — taking CO2 out of the atmosphere, as opposed to merely not adding to it — is the thing that will fix the mess we’ve created. Avoiding emissions is all well and good, and will ensure that things get back to how they should be, eventually. But wouldn’t it be a good idea to help things along a little?

There have been lots of suggestions about how we might be able to draw CO2 back out of the sky. Solutions range from the mechanical (e.g. the fabled carbon capture and storage beloved of coal-firing power companies), through the chemical (like iron enrichment of the oceans to promote blooming of carbon-storing algae) to the biological (such as our favourite, planting trees). Read the rest of this entry »

Wither the additionality?

Can upland sheep farms really be "carbon neutral"?

Can upland sheep farms really be "carbon neutral"?

According to a recent report, upland sheep farming is good news for the environment. A Northumberland sheep farmer commissioned a report looking into the greenhouse gas emissions from two farms. The report, produced by the Food Animal Initiative 2008, makes use of the Country Land and Business Association‘s CALM calculator, which was designed to enable farmers to work out their annual GHG emissions.

The two farms were found to have yearly emissions of 3.2 tonnes CO2e per hectare, which the report claims compares favourably with the national average of 4 and 6 tCO2e for other grazing LFA (Less Favoured Area) and lowland grazing systems, respectively. [Note, though, the recent Natural England study from which the report draws its background information actually gives an average value of 2.5 tCO2e per annum.] Read the rest of this entry »