By Steven Brown
Farming could see its biggest change since it moved ‘from horses to tractors’ as it looks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Farming for 1.5C report has set out how the industry and wider rural Scotland can help tackle climate change.
It includes a reduction in methane, better soil management and planting more trees on farmland.
The report, which was created by panel that includes farmers, scientists and environmental experts, has produced 15 recommendations.
They include how the sector can cut its methane emissions from livestock by 30% by 2045.
Agriculture accounted for 15% of Scotland’s total emissions in 2018.
Co-chair of Farming for 1.5C, Nigel Miller said: “Most farmers do recognise the challenge, they do actually want to change and they do want to support biodiversity and communities.
“What there isn’t at the moment is an agreement about the staging posts or the targets we’ve got to adopt to get there and I think this report hopefully starts to get there and map that out.”
The report has called for ‘political clarity’ about what is expected from the agricultural industry ‘outside of agriculture’s own need to reach net zero’.
It also suggests that funding for farmers in the future will continue to be vital and should centre around biodiversity.
Dr Sheila George from WWF said: “Change is not an option, the status quo is not an option and the longer we delay this, the more of an impact it is going to have on the industry.
“Climate change itself is already impacting agriculture and will do so more and farmers need to be able to respond to that.
“Fast action is in the interests of the industry and Scotland as a whole.”
The report also highlights changing land use from crops and grasslands to trees and has recommends that by 2030 all farmers should be involved in changing the use of their land.
NFU Scotland President, Andrew McCornick said: “The report sets out principles that all sectors of Scottish agriculture need to adopt. NFU Scotland agrees that we need to improve agricultural and carbon efficiency, better manage our soils, and develop a new approach to sharing knowledge and technical support.
“What this report makes most clear is that we all need to act immediately to tackle the climate emergency.
“If Scottish agriculture is to play its part as a solution to climate change, it needs to see a long-term commitment set out by Scottish Government that encompasses all sectors across the industry.
“The industry must be supported, guided by policy, and equipped with science-led advice if we are to reduce emissions while continuing to produce high quality food and drink.”