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This article is part of our collection on Agriculture

Farming news – July 2020

The latest stories on sustainable agriculture from The Business Barn.

Last updated: 29 Jul 2020 4 min read

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Drax, the UK’s largest single-site renewable energy generator, is part of a consortium supporting the carbon recycling project REACT-FIRST.

Single-cell protein aims to sustainably transform animal feed

A trailblazing project that aims to capture carbon dioxide from bio-energy generation and convert it to animal feed has launched with £3m of government funding from Innovate UK. 

REACT-FIRST is led by carbon recycling biotechnology company Deep Branch, which has pioneered a process that uses microbes to convert carbon dioxide from industrial emissions into high-value proteins. The project will obtain critical data about a new single-cell protein used in fish and poultry feed that could sustainably transform the UK’s aquaculture and poultry industries.

“Currently, most animal-feed protein sources are imported from overseas, making the UK dependent on complicated and fragile supply chains,” said Peter Rowe, CEO of Deep Branch. “REACT-FIRST has been created to focus solely on addressing this problem.”

The project has been supported by a consortium of 10 industry and academic partners, including Deep Branch, Sainsbury’s, Nottingham Trent University, the Institute of Aquaculture, and Drax, the UK’s largest single-site renewable energy generator. 

“Aquaculture is the fastest-growing food sector, with the UK salmon industry expected to increase significantly,” said Dr Mónica Betancor from the University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture. “Such growth can only be achieved in a sustainable manner by replacing the traditionally used marine ingredients in aquafeeds – fish meal and fish oil – for more sustainable options.” 

Find out more about the Proton single-cell protein here .

Farmers urged to claim energy tax discount

Energy-intensive businesses have until 30 September to benefit from reduced energy bills through the government’s extended Climate Change Agreement (CCA) scheme. Eligible businesses that sign a CCA can receive considerable discounts on their climate change levy (CCL), including up to 92% for electricity and 77% to 81% for other fuels. 

The CCL is an environmental tax charged to all industrial, public services, commercial and agricultural businesses and is designed to encourage businesses to be more energy efficient and reduce their overall emissions.

“Qualifying energy-intensive businesses need not have a particularly high energy spend,” commented Richard Palmer, senior consultant at energy consultancy Roadnight Taylor. “For clients with annual electricity energy spend as low as £45,000, we estimate forward savings of nearly £10,000 on CCL over the four and a half years of the scheme.

“The opportunity also allows businesses to gain momentum as their energy demand and business emerges from the Covid-19 demand destruction.” 

Find out more about how CCAs work and who is eligible here .

Low Carbon Agriculture show launches March 2021

Formerly known as the Energy and Rural Business Show, the new Low Carbon Agriculture event will take place at the National Agriculture and Exhibition Centre (NAEC) in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, on 9 – 10 March 2021. 

The two-day event is held in association with the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and will showcase opportunities in low-carbon practices, technology and energy solutions, incorporating four main ‘expos’: Environmental Business Expo; Farm Technology Expo; Energy Now Expo and Low Emission Vehicles Expo. 

Low Carbon Agriculture is also launching a networking app and inviting delegates to book one-to-one appointments in advance of the event, as well as running a series of Digital Insights webinars in September, debating the key issues affecting farmers and landowners who are implementing environmental and low-carbon solutions on their land.

The show is free to attend. Visit the Low Carbon Agriculture show website for further information. 

Webinars debate recovery of West Country food and agriculture 

A series of five webinars from 27 – 31 July will explore the nature of agriculture and food in the South West of England with the aim of creating a future rural recovery plan for the region. 

The webinar series, ‘Growing Back: a resilient and sustainable approach to agriculture and food in the South West’, will see a range of farming, business and scientific experts discuss the challenges facing the agricultural sector, including climate change, natural capital and the South West’s food systems. 

“By bringing together researchers, practical business owners and policymakers, we hope to identify how to marry sustainable and regenerative agriculture with a productive and resilient sector,” said Robin Jackson, director of the Rural Business School, which is hosting the series. “Food and farming are core to our region’s economy, and, if we get it right, there will be economic, environmental and social benefits.” 

Speakers taking part include Cornwall NFU chairman Jon Perry, Professor Michael Lee from Rothamsted Research, Professor Iain Stewart from the University of Plymouth, Becky Willson from Farm Carbon Toolkit, and Sue Pritchard from the RSA Food, Farming & Countryside Commission. 

Find out more about the seminar series here

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