Oliver McEntyre, National Agricultural Strategy Director for Barclays, talks about his thoughts on sustainability in agriculture.
Sustainability is a watchword in all walks of life at present, agriculture is no different – we have the pressure to maintain a food supply whilst also still remaining focused on producing that food in a sustainable, affordable and in a traceable way – all while the industry in the UK is also on the journey to hit Net Zero carbon emissions. That is going to be a challenging journey, but one the industry will complete, of that I am sure. We are all emitters of carbon and for that matter GHGs, but we must remember that there are very few industries in the fantastic position that agriculture is, in that our sector can sequestrate carbon also, therefore not only can we improve production systems to reduce carbon emissions, but we can ‘off-set’ within our own sector – this will give us a huge advantage in sustainability and reducing the impact of the UK farming sector on the planet.
We also have Natural Capital to consider, possibly even more unquantifiable as soil carbon at present, especially when all sorts of unknowns like the value of wellbeing, mental health and therefore knock on physical health benefits of people having access to the beautiful countryside created by farming and farmers. So as we are steaming into the New Year if I, as an agriculturalist, could have a couple of wishes – it would be for a definitive soil carbon measurement system and one that measures the positive impact on the population’s health of natural capital – it is the agri-tech community that will find these solutions through working with industry – so 2021 will be a year of working together and smoothing out the challenges ahead.