December 10, 2007 / 3:13 PM / in 11 years

UK farm sector could be near carbon neutral: report

LONDON (Reuters) - Agriculture in Britain is the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases after the energy sector but has the potential to be almost carbon neutral, an industry report issued on Monday said.

“Through accelerated uptake of energy efficiency and a range of renewable energy technologies, there is potential for agriculture ultimately to become almost carbon neutral,” the report said.

The report was issued by a climate-change task force backed by Britain’s National Farmers Union, the Agricultural Industries Confederation and the Country Land and Business Association.

Agriculture emits about 7 percent of Britain’s greenhouse gases.

The report backed technologies such as anaerobic digesters which take slurry, grass clippings and other agricultural products to produce heat or electricity and cut emissions of potent greenhouse gas methane.

“Research suggests that by stimulating both on-farm and centralized anaerobic digestion facilities up to 75 percent of UK methane emissions could be prevented from current manure management practices in dairy, cattle and fattening pig enterprises,” the report said.

Britain’s minister for climate change, biodiversity and waste Joan Ruddock welcomed the goal for agriculture to be almost carbon neutral, adding urgent action was needed.

“There is no doubt climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing agriculture,” she said at the launch of the report on Monday.

“Agriculture has a responsibility to cut its emissions as much as possible,” she said, adding awareness about climate change among farmers was now at an all-time high.

Reporting by Nigel Hunt; Editing by Michael Roddy

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