Insect meal for feed and fertiliser, methane inhibitors, genetic innovation and vertical farming are just some of the innovations that can help deliver Net Zero in UK agriculture, according to a new inquiry report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Science and Technology in Agriculture.

Identifying eight key areas of innovation with the potential to transform UK agriculture’s climate impact, the report also highlights a number of potential and actual barriers to these innovations reaching Britain’s farmers, and makes recommendations for Government to remove these barriers, covering regulatory, policy and R&D actions.    

The APPG chair Julian Sturdy MP said the starting point for the inquiry was that climate change should be tackled by encouraging new green technologies and scientific innovations, rather than by imposing measures which might harm economic growth and living standards, and ultimately reduce domestic food production.

Mr Sturdy said policy developments under discussion in other countries, such as the imposition of emissions reduction targets, livestock culls and even the buy-out and closure of farms, suggested that agriculture can often be seen as a soft target for climate action. He noted that Defra chief scientist Professor Gideon Henderson had referred ruminant livestock as the ‘low hanging fruit’ for short term greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions when he spoke to the All-Party Group in 2022.

“Agriculture is possibly unique in its relationship to climate change - at the same time a major cause, victim and a source of solutions,” said Mr Sturdy. “It is therefore disappointing that the narrative around climate change and agriculture is often negative in tone, particularly in relation to livestock farming. This diverts attention from the enormous opportunities for agricultural science and innovation to contribute positively to the climate agenda.”

“This APPG report highlights many exciting examples of how advances in areas such as plant and animal breeding, precision agriculture, alternative proteins, feed additives, indoor farming and other sectors can support sustainable increases in domestic food production and economic growth while delivering on the Net Zero agenda for British agriculture. The report also identifies the regulatory, policy and R&D actions needed to unlock the full potential of these innovations.”