As part of the Strategic Development Fund Pilot being run by The Lancashire Colleges, some 10 carbon audits of farms across the region are helping with improvements in soil health, reduced reliance on purchased fertilisers and an increase in the use of farmers’ own nutrients.
Led by Myerscough College, near Preston, a number of carbon roadshows have also provided advice across a newly-created farmer network in the county on issues such as silage, the quality of cattle’s nutrient health and a reduction in the use of concentrates.
To date, a number of carbon farm roadshows have featured the use of drones for checking livestock, robotic silage pushers, and automatic calf feeders, and the restoration of peatland to improve carbon sequestration.
The college has also advised farmers about developing resource management in buildings including a calf house that improves animal welfare and a potato store built to deliver maximum efficiencies in drying capabilities which will enable 12 million packets of crisps made from British potatoes to find their way to the consumer.
Andrea Gardner, Head of Agricultural Projects at Myerscough College, said: “Every farmer has bought into the carbon audits and the benefits they bring. These practices will start to change the way they run their farms and address the issue of carbon reduction and will be in place long after this project finishes.”
With an investment of more than half a million pounds so far, the agriculture project is also providing practical demonstrations including the use of a harvest lab to provide soil data, seed drills, a feeder and two high technology tractors.
The £8.4m SDF pilot aims to meet the needs of the zero-low carbon economy of the future through a programme delivered by the county’s colleges.
Working with employers of all sizes across diverse projects covering agriculture, construction, energy, advanced manufacturing, digital and automotive, it aims to create a skilled workforce for the future.
The Lancashire Colleges was chosen by the Department for Education to deliver the SDF Pilot, exploring how education providers can work together more effectively alongside employers and other partners to respond to local skills and innovation priorities as well as tackling the zero-low carbon agenda.
Employers can find out more by visiting www.tlc.ac.uk/sdf.