Young farmers and the future of a changing sector

Oxbury Bank

Now, more than ever – the impact of climate change is rightly becoming more prominent in everyday discussions. Ahead of Earth Day 2021, the Government have very recently brought forward the UK’s carbon emissions target, setting a 78% CO2e reduction target by 2035.
Agriculture has a crucial role to play in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions; however, one key difference compared to other sectors of the economy is that although agriculture and food production produce greenhouses gas emissions, predominantly NOx and CH4 – as a sector founded on biological process it has the capacity to sequester CO2. This positively differentiates farming from any other industry: not only with a part to play in reducing emissions but supporting other sectors as well. How agriculture adapts is imperative in addressing climate change and a sustainable British food ecosystem for the future.

In the UK, the average age of farmer currently stands at 59 – however, underneath there is a following generation of hardworking, dedicated younger farmers who not only focus on the benefits of farming but also alternative farming practices and a wide variety of farming methods which have a positive effect on addressing the current greenhouse gas emissions profile. Alongside this, the NFU has set the ambitious goal of agriculture as an industry becoming a net-zero emitter of greenhouse gases by 2040. This sets all farmers, regardless of age on a collective ambition and commitment to reduce the output of NOx, CH4 and CO2 on farm. Several alternative pathways are being followed such as: carbon sequestration in soils and new hedgerows and woodlands, renewable energy generation, alternative feeds or sources of feeds and so-called “regenerative agriculture” practices, to name just a few of the many routes available to the sector.

Young people in agriculture are faced with a multitude of change; during the current generation of farm leaders we have seen an noticeable increase in diversifications as part of the farm business model. Are we about to reach a point in time where the main focus of a farm business diversification is an investment into carbon reduction systems, renewable energy and biodiversity enhancements?

That is why it is so important for young farmers and landowners and, in fact all farmers, to be fully supported on all the available opportunities and what will work best for their own farm business. Increasing productivity on-farm has always been a vital part of the success of British agriculture, this now means that the upcoming generation of farmers needs to contextualise the impact of productivity improvements against the reality of climate change. One which can utilise and maximise the natural benefits of British farming, in harmony with the environment. For some it may seem that investing in carbon mitigating initiatives may not seem like the most efficient use of valuable time and money with so many other challenges and changes to consider. However, this may become a resilient and fundamental factor for future financial sustainability as a direct result of these challenges and changes.

Oxbury are 100% dedicated just to British farmers. We don’t lend to anyone else and have a unique understanding and sympathy with the requirement of farmers. Whether you are nearing the end of your career, or just starting out, if you have a carbon reduction plan as part of your farm management plan or are using renewables as a source of energy on the farm or considering these sorts of projects, Oxbury can offer a lending solution to support your plans. We also offer individual packages to support farm succession planning, ensuring the goals of all generations are aligned.

Oxbury Farm Loans offer a variety of tailored requirements with bespoke repayment profiles for British farmers. To find out more visit

Rejuvenating swards: Which option is best?

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Written by Brian McDonnell

Maintaining grass quality during mid-season grazing is important. Farmers can maintain quality by entering ideal grazing covers of 1,300 – 1,500kg DM/ha, and grazing down to a residual of 4cm every rotation.

If you are now in a situation where cows are not cleaning out paddocks as well as they should be, leading to the development of steamy grass within the sward, here are some options.

Common options for rejuvenating swards include:

  1. Take a silage cut, probably into bales, remove the material and start again with the aftermath...