Farmers are being called upon to join one of the biggest and most comprehensive projects ever undertaken by UK agriculture to credibly achieve net zero.
The Nitrogen Efficient Plants for Climate Smart Arable Cropping Systems (NCS) project will see famers and scientists working together to achieve the best from pulse crops and reduce carbon emissions.
A key component is the creation of a new Performance Enhancement Platform – called the PulsePEP – which is a farmer-led community and knowledge hub led by ADAS for farmers who are striving to achieve the best from pulse crops and reduce their carbon emissions.
Through PulsePEP, NCS will give 200 UK farmers direct support to establish their farm carbon footprint baseline and then their GHG emissions will be tracked throughout the project.
PGRO chief executive, Roger Vickers, who leads the NCS consortium, said: “Everyone knows that pulses and legumes have considerable benefits for UK farming systems.
“But these have never been truly and accurately measured. So their value has been sorely underplayed and their potential to address the climate crisis has gone unrecognised.
“Together we can change that. We now have the science, the tools and the know-how among UK farmers, not only to tap into that potential, but to develop it further.
“Bringing that talent together is what lies at the heart of NCS – it’s never been done before, and there’s never been a project on this scale with this much ambition.”
Funded by the Defra Farming Innovation Programme, delivered by Innovate UK, a group of Pulse Pioneers will be selected from the PulsePEP to host paid-for trials on their own farms.
The on-farm progress will be based on cutting-edge technologies and farming systems, incorporating some of the latest research and innovations from leading UK institutes and tech companies.
Andy Howard, a pulse grower from Kent, said: “Through on-farm trials and close involvement with the research community we’re at last pulling some valuable R&D off the dusty shelves of research institutes, into fields and into the hands of farmers where it belongs."
The NCS aims to deliver more than half of the GHG emissions reduction target for UK agriculture by increasing pulse cropping in arable rotations to 20% across the UK and develop and test new feed rations.
This will help livestock farmers to substitute up to 50% of imported soya meal used in feed with more climate-friendly home-grown pulses and legumes.
Farmers can sign up to PulsePEP online.