Comparative analysis of farm-based carbon audits

Farm-based carbon audits are one of the tools that might help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the farming sector. This report compares the available tools to assess their potential application in Scotland.

Key findings:
  • 64 potentially applicable tools were identified through a web search. Of these, nine were selected for more detailed comparison. Analysis found that a further six were not suitable due to a variety of shortcomings (e.g. general purpose of the tool, major limitations in comprehensiveness, lack of transparency).
  • Only three of those tools would be suitable for farm level carbon audits in Scotland:
    1. AgRE Calc
    2. Cool Farm Tool and
    3. Solagro (JRC) Carbon Calculator
  • These tools follow a similar calculation framework (international guidelines and international calculating standards), although none can be judged to be fully comprehensive. Although currently free to use, maintenance and development of the carbon audit framework requires continuing investment. In addition, their application needs to be embedded in wider environmental and farm context in the form of advisory support (i.e. the tool should not be the sole information source for decision).
  • The comprehensiveness and practicality of each tool varies between production systems (e.g. crop production, livestock production, carbon sequestration). No tool is fully comprehensive, and each can only handle a limited amount of possible emissions reductions on farms. None of the three recommended tools considers embedded emissions in livestock bought in.