Your net zero plan

You selected ‘Farming and land use’ and ‘Scotland’
Start Again

  • Understand your business emissions
  • Get support
  • Actions you can take right now
  • Longer term actions
  • Indirect emissions
  • Share your progress

Understand your business emissions

1) What causes emissions

Direct carbon emissions produced by farming include:

  • chemical fertilisers – used on crops
  • methane – released by livestock manure
  • land use change – clearing natural habitats such as woodland
  • soil-based emissions – caused by regular tilling and soil compaction
  • energy use – for lighting and heating in farm buildings
  • transport – using vehicles and tractors which run on petrol or diesel
  • general waste – resulting from farming processes and product packaging

2) Calculate your emissions

There are a number of farm-specific tools to help measure emissions. These include:

3) Estimate the cost of your emissions

Once you have your carbon footprint, you can calculate how much your emissions are costing you. This will give you an idea of potential savings you can make by taking action.

4) Sign up to the SME climate commitment

Make a climate declaration to show customers you are committed to reducing emissions.

Get support

1) Support in your sector

You can get guidance from the following organisations:

You can also learn how to run your business in a more environmentally friendly way by hiring a sustainability consultant

2) Support in your region

The following grants, schemes and loan programmes are available in Scotland:

  • Circular Economy Investment Fund gives SMEs and non-profit organisations matching funds to reduce waste and develop green products
  • Domestic charge point funding gives up to £700 toward the installation of an electric vehicle charge point
  • eBike loans offer interest-free loans of up to £6,000 for the purchase of an approved electric bike – the repayment period is 4 years
  • Electric vehicle (EV) loans gives interest-free loans up to £28,000 to buy a new EV or £10,000 for a motorcycle or scooter – the repayment period is 6 years
  • Energy Savings Trust gives funds for vehicle retrofits and safe disposal of non-compliant vehicles – must be a SME with 9 employees or less and located within 20km of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen or Dundee
  • Energy Investment Fund offers loans and investments for commercial and community-based low carbon energy projects
  • Funding for green jobs gives matching funding from £50,000 to £500,000 for the creation of green jobs – must be a registered company within the Scottish Enterprise area
  • Home Energy Scotland offers interest free loans and cashback for energy efficiency and renewable upgrades to a domestic property – maximum loan amount is £32,500 and cashback is £14,000
  • NESTRANS Sustainable Travel Grant Scheme gives SMEs up to £10,000 in matching funds for sustainable transport initiatives – must be based in Aberdeen or Aberdeenshire
  • Private Rented Sector Landlord Loans lets property management businesses borrow up to £15,000 for energy efficiency and £17,000 for renewable systems – interest and fees apply
  • SME Loan Scheme offers interest-free loans from £1,000 to £100,000 to pay for energy efficiency and carbon reducing upgrades – up to £20,000 can be provided as a grant if installing eligible equipment
  • Used Electric Vehicle Loan for Business gives interest-free loans up to £20,000 for businesses of all sizes to buy a used electric car, van or moped

Zero Waste Scotland also offers free support and advice for businesses, including:

  • a free energy assessment – to identify where and how you can make savings
  • a comprehensive report showing key actions you can take to reduce emissions

Actions you can take right now

1) Save energy in your buildings

Quick, low-cost measures include:

  • lighting – use LED bulbs for greater efficiency
  • heating – put your thermostat on a timer and seal your windows for extra insulation
  • office equipment – try to turn off and unplug devices when they’re not being used

2) Do an energy walk-round

Walk around your farm to see if energy is being used efficiently.

Prepare a checklist. Look out for wasteful energy use and maintenance issues in the following areas:

Improve ventilation

Routine maintenance checks and cleaning will improve the efficiency of your ventilation system.

3) Change your energy tariff

Switch to a green energy tariff with your energy supplier. This will reduce your reliance on energy produced by fossil fuels.

4) Switch to a smart meter

This will allow you to see and control how much energy you use. Find out more

5) Manage your waste

Recycle waste to prevent it being taken to landfill sites where it takes longer to break down and causes more emissions.

Longer term actions

1) Reducing livestock emissions

If you have livestock on your farm, you can cut methane emissions by :

  • feeding cattle based on their nutrient needs
  • focusing on herd health and breeding practices to improve production efficiency
  • using manure storage covers, sealed tanks and additives to break down manure

Milk cooling

On a dairy farm, a Plate Heat Exchanger can reduce energy costs for cooling milk by up to 50%. Using water to pre-cool milk can reduce cooling costs by 30%.

Vacuum pumps

In a milking parlour, installing a variable speed drive on a vacuum pump can reduce pump running costs by 60%.

2) Reducing soil emissions

To reduce soil-based emissions and improve soil quality, use cover crops. Avoid:

  • regular tilling
  • grazing and travelling on wet soil
  • compacting the soil with heavy machinery

3) Installing renewables

If you are the legal owner of your property, you might consider installing renewable sources of energy.

For example:

By doing so, you can make significant long-term savings on energy bills.

Check planning permission guidelines before you go ahead with any structural changes to the property.

4) Reducing transport emissions

Over 25% of the UK’s carbon emissions are caused by transport. You can take measures to reduce the impact.

If you have employees you could introduce a cycle-to-work initiative or encourage them to take public transport.

Electric vehicles

If you use a work vehicle, you can reduce emissions by switching over to an electric vehicle (EV). You would be exempt from road tax, congestion charges and parking fees in certain areas.

For easy overnight charging you could install EV chargers at your home or workplace. A government grant scheme covers up to £350 per charging point.

Learn more about reducing the impact of transport

Transporting refrigerated goods

Learn how to reduce emissions when transporting refrigerated goods

5) Sustainable product packaging

Replace plastic with recycled or compostable substitutes.

Types of sustainable packing include:

  • plant-based packaging
  • edible packaging – made from seaweed extract
  • compostable and biodegradable plastic alternatives
  • plantable packaging – which is made from seeds and can be buried in soil

Find sustainable packaging companies

6) Selling carbon credits

You can capture carbon emissions from the air by planting woodland on your property.

You can then sell each tonne of captured carbon as carbon credits to:

  • large companies looking to offset their carbon footprint
  • the government (England only)

Learn more about selling carbon credits

Indirect emissions

To reduce indirect or ‘supply chain’ emissions you need to consider what happens before and after your business provides a service or makes a product.

1) Choose greener ‘upstream’ suppliers and products

  • use suppliers that measure and reduce carbon
  • help your suppliers with carbon reduction projects
  • buy products that take less energy to make, transport and operate

2) Reduce emissions ‘downstream’ of your business

  • make products that take less energy to make, transport and operate
  • reduce water consumption and waste disposal needs
  • make investments in lower carbon financial products
  • give incentives for lower emission activities in leased assets or franchises

3) Certify your supply chain action

The Carbon Trust offers the following verification schemes:

Share your progress

Sharing your progress will help employees and customers feel confident that you’re reducing carbon and moving towards net zero.

You should share your progress once you’ve done both of the following:

  • worked out a benchmark of emissions
  • started to take action

Find out more about how to track and share your progress