Make your pledge for net zero for your chance to win a solar light

Many NFU members are already taking positive steps to help the agriculture sector achieve net zero by 2040.

Have you pledged yet?

Make a pledge for net zero on our pledge map and you’ll be entered into our monthly prize draw for the chance to win a solar light.

More than 250 farmers have pledged so far, letting us know the actions they are taking across our three net zero pillars. So whether you are currently taking action for net zero or have plans to do so in the next 12 months, let us know.

Read the prize draw terms and conditions.


Make a pledge on our pledge map and you could win a solar light

Film a quick video or take a picture of what you are doing and share on your social media with #Pledge2040.

The more members who come together to make a pledge for net zero, the bigger the change we can make together. Each and every action counts.

Not sure where to start with net zero? Check out our new net zero resource page for some guidance.


Pledge campaign July and August update

With July and August being some of the busiest times of year on farm you might think that now isn’t the time to be thinking about net zero or making changes on farm.

But our winners have shown that it's still be a great opportunity to begin looking at any areas of low productive output that could help the farm reach its net zero goals.

  • East Anglia – Mr W Dickinson 
  • East Midlands – Mr B Sargent 
  • North East – Mr P Swiers
  • North West – Simon and Lisa Edwards 
  • South East – Mr J N and Mrs C Wylie  
  • South West – Martin Howlett 
  • Wales – Mr S James 
  • West Midlands – Mr R Spencer

Read what our winners had to say

We spoke to our winners for this month about the changes they have made and how they set about approaching their net zero ambitions on farm.

East Anglia winner Mr Dickinson

“I have been working to improve the soil structure and quality, using manure and digestate to increase the soil organic matter. We made this choice to reduce the amount of artificial nitrogen we use to reduce our carbon footprint. Since the release of the new Farming Rules for Water we are having to rethink our approach to how we continue this vital work. It has highlighted more than ever that the policy and legislation for farming must support the actions of farmers to reach their net zero ambitions if we are going to make farming part of the solution to climate change.”

East Midlands winner Mr Sargent

“Our net zero work has centred around improving our soils. We have introduced grass into arable rotation to help sequestration of carbon. We have also used clover within the grass ley to improve nitrogen levels within the soil which has helped to reduce our input requirements.  Rather than using artificial nitrogen we have used manure improving organic matter levels and carbon storage, while also improving soil structure and fertility when incorporated properly, it’s a simple approach that reduces cost and as a by-product from our other activities it makes sense to use it as best, we can.”  

North East winner Mr Swiers

“The arrival of a first grandchild concentrates the mind on the longer-term future of farming in North Yorkshire. The consequences of Climate Change could severely impact the productivity of a light land arable farm, dependent on field drainage, through extremes of drought and flood.  It’s the responsibility of the current generation to do the best we can to mitigate these climatic extremes.

“We need to focus on the sustainability of the land and the environment around it and if that involves making changes that align with the net zero ambition then it’s the right thing to do. We already have solar and biomass on the farm and have recently planted three miles of hedges to reduce our carbon footprint, improve biodiversity and increase carbon storage. If someone asked me where to start, I would say begin by thinking about making changes that will help future generations, like planting a hedge or woodland that will be an asset for their future.”

North West winners Simon and Lisa Edwards

“We pledged to net zero because we needed to re-evaluate how we farm. Because we farm on peaty soils we are very conscious that we are responsible for a large carbon store.

“This Spring we’ve conducted a trial into direct drilling compared to ploughing or lightly cultivating to see how this affects yield and what the best methods will be to use on our particular soil type. We also visited a newly established carbon farm run by Lancashire Wildlife Trust at Winmarleigh to look at how farmers may be able to grow sphagnum moss to capture carbon on wetter land and whether this may be an option in the future.

“In addition to crop trials, the next step will be to monitor water levels in the soil using rust rods to gather information to enable better soil management of the peat and reduce carbon loss in conjunction with producing food.”

South East winners Mr and Mrs Wylie

We pledged for net zero after hearing NFU Deputy president Stuart Roberts at the net zero live conference in May. As smallholders with 25 acres, we aren’t at the same scale as other members but we feel what we do can help make a difference to the NFU’s net zero ambition. We have a biomass boiler and solar panels, and we use non inversion tillage and we are hoping to find out how our soil carbon levels are performing.

“Our move towards net zero is an aspiration to do more for the environment and to show that farming can help, and I would encourage anyone to think about what they could do. You might even be surprised you are probably already doing more than you think!”

South West winner Martin Howlett

“We have focused on improving the farm’s natural capital, while maintaining a healthy business model. The average field is six to seven acres and they all have large margins to meet the requirements of Countryside Stewardship, but this works well to meet both the needs of the local flora and fauna, and our business output.

“I consider myself a custodian of the land and want to make the best of it, historically the soils were not in good condition and we have adapted our management approach to benefit them. Alongside other farmers in the Tamar Valley AONB we have been involved in the ELM’s soil scanning carbon testing test and trial and recently hosted Rebecca Pow MP Junior Environment Minister on farm to talk about the value of soil carbon and the output of the test and trial.”

“I would encourage other members to look at their farm as an opportunity to improve the natural capital of the countryside, hedges and field margins are great places to help wildlife as well as store carbon.”

West Midlands winner Mr Spencer 

“I farm shorthorn beef cattle and supply Morrison’s supermarket; I have been lucky in that I have been included in their net zero farming pilot scheme and they have been working with me to measure the farm’s carbon footprint. We will be completing soil sampling soon and I’m looking forward to seeing where we can improve and how we can make better use of the manure from the beef herd.

“I spend the winter gapping up hedgerows and maintaining the natural environment on the farm. We approach this with conservation in mind and have been rewarded with a great range of biodiversity.

“I would urge other farmers to think about net zero not as a task but the opportunity to prepare for the future demands of the consumer. By starting now we will all be better suited to meet these demands. There are also lots of grants and schemes out there to benefit from to help get started on the journey towards net zero.”


The prize

You could win an SM 100 solar light from Solar Aid.

Perfect as a handheld torch, a freestanding light or you can attach a strap (not included) and wear it as a head torch. Prizes are kindly donated by NFU Energy. Every light purchased helps to get another solar light to rural Africa, getting safe, clean light to families currently living without electricity.

SolarAid

SolarAid is a UK charity whose work has been recognised as impacting on 12 of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. They believe that universal access to renewable energy is the best way to alleviate poverty and end darkness and the best way to ensure this is by building local, sustainable businesses. Their Social Enterprise SunnyMoney is one of the main sellers of solar lights in Africa. SunnyMoney agents travel to remote rural communities to make clean light available where there were previously only unhealthy and expensive alternatives, like kerosene lamps and candles. They help instil trust and create demand in a new and unfamiliar technology – which helps build the foundations for a sustainable solar market and a lasting energy legacy.


One solar light:

  • Averts 1.1 tonnes of CO2 emissions in the atmosphere.
  • Saves families £159 who will no longer has to spend money on dangerous candles or toxic kerosene.
  • Allows 1,006 hours of extra study time for a child, who will study by safe light after the sun has set.


Last edited: 11:42 on 09 August 2021

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