Increasing carbon capture through cropping
We are involved in a research project which aims to help UK farmers and growers to target Net Zero and increase crop resilience.
The 4 year, £5.9 million Centre for High Carbon Capture Cropping (CHCx3) will;
- Help UK farmers capture more carbon and build farm resilience through diversified cropping
- Enable insetting/offsetting of emissions and offer new revenue sources in the carbon market
- Support enhanced value chains for industries such as textiles or construction using biorenewables
The project will offer opportunities for stakeholders to participate in research, including crop trials and field demonstrations. The research is focused on the economic and environmental potential of four cropping options below and their associated tillage systems;
- Rotational cover crops
- Perennial food, feed & forage crops (incl. cereals, herbal leys)
- Annual fibre crops (industrial hemp, flax)
- Perennial biomass crops (miscanthus, willow, poplar)
CHCx3 will evaluate and develop the potential for increased carbon (C) capture within UK agriculture by improving these crops' ability to capture and store Carbon-dioxide. This is an opportunity to build on existing specialist know-how and genetic resources in the laboratory to fast-track the development and adoption of new varieties that increase carbon capture and bio-based feedstocks for industry across the UK.
Our role in the project
We will lead the value chain mapping and evaluation work with specialist guidance from Professor Peter Ball, University of
York’s School of Business and Society, and from Lukie Tolhurst, associate at Lucid Insight, author of the UK Grown Report for High-Value Biorenewables. Together they will map and evaluate the supply chain opportunities and challenges across the four crop-to-product value chains. They will also develop guidance on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to measure and evaluate the carbon emissions and wider environmental impacts of the value streams. Research partners at the University of York’s Centre for Novel Agricultural Products and seed supply partners at Elsoms are undertaking research trials to improve the genomics of hemp seed and fibre crops to bring further processing benefits to develop enhanced single and dual crop industrial hemp varieties.
Opportunity to feed into the research
The Centre’s ‘Knowledge Hub’ will provide resources to support the effective uptake and utilisation of crops with high carbon-capture potential, with practical outputs such as crop guides, web tools and apps available to landowners, farmers and agronomists. The project will offer opportunities for its stakeholders to engage with and participate in the ongoing research, including crop trials, field demonstrations, webinars, workshops and training.
In addition to capturing atmospheric carbon-dioxide from the air and storing it in the soil, the project will consider how the crops themselves can be used in production of; new products made from those crops. These include substitutes bricks/breezeblocks, fabrics and chip-board and energy-crops substitute for gas/oil. In short, replacing non-renewable, carbon-intensive production materials where possible.
Developing real-life solutions
This is an opportunity to map the economic, environmental and social value of these cropping systems, and establish the real value they can bring to farmers and the manufacturers of low carbon products, in construction, textiles and bio-composite materials.
The project, led by the NIAB, Cambridge, has been awarded funding by Defra under the Farming Futures Fund: Climate Smart Farming - part of Defra’s Farming Innovation Programme, delivered in partnership with Innovate UK.
Addressing environmental challenges
This project builds on the BioYorkshire initiative, which aims to develop sustainable solutions for some of the UK’s most pressing environmental challenges and boost the regional economy through the creation of jobs as part of a new green agenda. It is a ten-year programme that will accelerate the translation and application of research discoveries into full scale biotechnology applications. It will use the region’s world class science base to deliver the profitable bio-based production of chemicals, materials, and fuels. The project will also support net-zero food production, farming and wider land use practices.
The ambitious programme - an innovative public-private partnership - includes the University of York, Fera Science, Askham Bryan College and a range of private sector partners. Together, it will transform the UK’s bioeconomy through an ‘end to end’ programme going from world class research through to translation facilities to study the application of this research, then a network of specialised business incubators, training and skills and entrepreneurial support to create and grow companies to commercially produce the industrial and consumer products from the research.
Participate in the Centre for High Carbon Capture Cropping
CHCx3 will run a number of events and industry-facing workshops to engage with its key stakeholders. If you are interested in these or would like to grow any of the above mentioned crops. Please visit the website or following the #CHCx3 on X and LinkedIn for further updates.
The full project partnership is as follows:
NIAB (Project Lead)
Biorenewables Development Centre
British Hemp Alliance
Crops for Energy
Dark Green Carbon
Energy Crops Consultancy
English Fine Cottons
F C Palmer & Sons
National Farmers Union of England & Wales (NFU)
Natural Building Systems
Northern Ireland Hemp Association
Scottish Hemp Association
University of York