Craig and Claire Grant started the Resilient and Ready programme in 2019 with one overriding goal: to gain a better understanding of the source of their carbon emissions and be in a position to become more sustainable.
Based in Aberdeenshire, Craig and Claire farm about 240ha with 200 high health status beef cattle, as well as taking on another poultry site in 2020 with an additional 76,000 laying birds and another 12,000 bird free range unit it 2021. In total, the pair have 160,000 birds made up of free range and colony.
Feed naturally drums up high costs as well as accounting for the majority of the enterprises’ carbon footprint, which was something the Grants wanted to tackle using the resources available to them through the Resilient and Ready programme, run by Corteva Agriscience in partnership with LEAF.
From various webinars and articles ran by the programme, Eggbase approached the couple offering their services. Eggbase an agri-tech cloud-based platform for pullet rearers, egg layers and broiler growers. Eggbase’s carbon calculator gives a detailed understanding of where the carbon emissions arise, giving access to invaluable data directly within the platform.
Anne Fleck, Managing Director at Eggbase, explains: “Having the ability to run the carbon footprint themselves from within their Eggsense account allows for assessment of the effect of production changes on the carbon footprint, the identification of trade-offs and the reduction of GHG emissions in the most economically viable way.
“Using the integrated Eggsense carbon footprint calculator gives the Grants full transparency and an audit trail of figures used within the carbon footprint. No industry averages are used – each flock assessment is individualised, so the output is directly related to them.”
Since beginning their journey towards sustainability, the carbon footprint breakdown provided by Eggbase has confirmed that the couple’s biggest source of emissions was, unsurprisingly, feed. However, the results also precisely identified the other areas Craig and Claire could focus on, including manure, pullets, fuel, purchased electricity and water supply, which together accounts for 18% of their carbon emissions.
Looking at the data within Eggbase, the couple made the decision to trial home-grown beans as a feed source and displace the need for a percentage of bought-in protein.
Craig explains: “We started by growing 10 acres of beans which produced 2t/acre. After testing the beans, the results have shown that they are 25% protein. The beans harvested cost £3/percent of protein compared to imported soya’s £11/percent of protein to purchase.”
Using the carbon footprint calculator has been user friendly and a great way to monitor flock performance, according to Claire.
Claire said: “We can compare previous flocks easily, using graphs for each element of production that are updated in real-time as you put in new data.
“This has been our first step towards monitoring our carbon footprint and we still have to see out this first year of growing beans before we can confirm that the impact on our carbon emissions has been as expected. It’s a long-term journey and we are grateful to have always had help at the end of a phone to guide us through the system and to be able to ask for advice.”