The Royal Agricultural College is proud to announce that it has become an affiliated member of the Cool Farm Institute (CFI), whose mission is to enable millions of growers globally to make more informed on-farm decisions that reduce their environmental impact. Focusing on greenhouse gases in the first phase, the Institute provides the Cool Farm Tool (CFT) as a carbon calculator that is credible and standardised to aid decision support.

The CFI’s aim is to aid both growers and suppliers in the global agricultural market and was launched in May 2012 by a consortium of “Founding Partners” and managed by the Sustainable Food Lab, a network of business, non-profit and public organizations working together to accelerate the shift toward sustainability. Some of the Cool Farm Institute founding partners include; PepsiCo, Unilever, Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Yara, and Heineken.

"The Cool Farm Institute Founding Partners are extremely pleased to be welcoming the Royal Agricultural College as an Affiliated Member”, said Daniella Malin from the Sustainable Food Lab, “With the addition of the RAC we are strengthening the formal academic credentials of the Institute and further building the pool of coordinated expertise when it comes to supply chain oriented agricultural GHG quantification."

Developed by the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Aberdeen, in partnership with Unilever and the Sustainable Food Lab, the Cool Farm Tool users measure, understand and manage greenhouse gas emissions from farms. For example, the tool identifies that increasing composting facility on a livestock farm can reduce methane emissions and provide an additional revenue stream in the form of compost for sale. The CFT will help quantify the greenhouse gas reduction of this management decision.

As part of Contract Research and Consultancy, the RAC advises clients on their sustainable procurement policies and processes. RAC Professors and staff have noted that there is poor take-up of carbon measurement in multiple agricultural sectors with confusion in the choice of tools for carbon auditing. Becoming a member of the CFI will give the College access to a commercial version of the CFT, which will be used in on-going consultancy work and be used in research which will inform teaching at the College.

Dr Ian Grange said “the RAC’s link to the Cool Farm Institute is a fantastic opportunity for both staff and students alike. Getting a better handle on the amounts and movement of carbon in and around the farmed environment will help identify potential areas for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, leading to more effective management decisions.”

The College will use the CFT in research into how crop yields vary using different farming techniques and their associated carbon footprints with Dr Nicola Cannon, and the tool will also be used in research into the quantification of carbon pools in field boundaries: hedgerows, margins and tree strips with Dr Ian Grange. Membership will also give the RAC access to a learning network of practitioner-experts and other users and an active involvement in the governance and direction of the CFI. It is hoped that this partnership will bring many new opportunities for the RAC and help us to lead the way in innovative low-carbon agriculture. 

For more information, please contact Bethany Ledingham on 01285 652531.