Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) Handbook 2013 (NE349)

2.11 Managing your land to focus on climate change

Why your farm is important

The climate is already changing: according to the Meteorological Office, temperatures in central England have increased by 1oC since the 1970s. The latest UK Climate Projections are for warmer, drier summers, wetter winters and more extreme weather events in the future. These changes are already affecting farming practices, for example, a greater risk of extreme events, such as drought and prolonged rainfall increases the need to protect soils and water from erosion.

Mitigation: Taking action to reduce the scale of climate change, by reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions and protecting carbon stored in soils and vegetation.

Adaptation: To enable the natural environment to adapt to climate change there must be space for wildlife: a variety of habitats will enable different species to find suitable conditions. Farmers are in an important position to help provide those conditions.


How ELS can help you prepare for climate change

ELS can promote adaptation to climate change by:

  • supporting farmers in adapting their land management practices to changing conditions, for example,by using the resource protection options to counteract the increasing risk of soil erosion from heavier rainfall events;
  • providing the space and conditions in which the natural environment can adapt, for example, by buffering watercourses.

ELS can help you to mitigate climate change in two ways:

  • some options help to reduce emissions without impacting on agricultural production;
  • protecting the carbon currently stored in soils and vegetation, and helping to sequester more, through improved soil management, habitat restoration and increasing tree cover.
Investigate and reduce your emissions

Use the CALM-ES Calculator (Carbon Accounting for Land Managers – Environmental Stewardship), to estimate the emissions from your farm and consider how to reduce them. CALM-ES is an entirely voluntary tool that does not earn you ELS points, but will help you make the right choices in tackling climate change. So far, more than 7,000 farmers have chosen it to assess their Greenhouse Gas emissions. (see www.calm.cla.org.uk).

Within ELS, options such as winter cover crops can help to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions without removing land from production. Our Technical Information Note (TIN107) ES and climate change mitigation, which you can download from the Natural England website, details in Appendix 2, contains further information on how you can use ES options to help mitigate climate change.


Protect soil and water

Tackling soil erosion and increasing soil organic matter levels will protect soil and improve water quality. It will also protect soil carbon. Soils that are protected in this way will be more resilient to climate change. The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology estimates that over 95 percent of the UK land carbon stock is located in soils.

Within ELS, resource protection options and low input management on permanent grassland will be especially valuable.


Increase tree cover

During their growth phase, trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Mature trees store the carbon and provide additional shade and shelter for livestock in the anticipated warmer, drier summers.

Within ELS, options to protect trees, hedgerows and establish new hedgerow trees will make a contribution.


Protect wildlife

Buffering hedges, ponds and woodlands, creating habitat patches in field corners, all help to provide the space and variety of conditions that wildlife will need if it is to adapt to climate change.

See the Farm Wildlife pages 14 to 23 for further information.


Code Option description
EB3 Hedgerow management for landscape and wildlife
EB10 Combined hedge and ditch management (incorporating EB3)
EB14 Hedgerow management
EC4 Management of woodland edges
EC23 Establishment of hedgerow trees by tagging
EC24 Hedgerow tree buffer strips on cultivated land
EC25 Hedgerow tree buffer strips on grassland
ED2 Take out of cultivation archaeological features currently on cultivated land
ED3 Reduced-depth non-inversion cultivation on archaeological features (minimum till)
EE7 Buffering in-field ponds in improved permanent grassland
EE8 Buffering in-field ponds in arable land
EE9 6 m buffer strips on cultivated land next to a watercourse
EE10 6 m buffer strips on intensive grassland next to a watercourse
EF1 Management of field corners
EF4 Nectar flower mixture
EF7 Beetle banks
EG1 Undersown spring cereals
EJ2 Management of maize crops to reduce soil erosion
EJ5 In-field grass areas to prevent erosion and run-off
EJ9 12 m buffer strips for watercourses on cultivated land
EJ10 Enhanced management of maize crops to reduce soil erosion and run-off
EJ13 Winter cover crops
EK1 Take field corners out of management
EK3 Permanent grassland with very low inputs
EK4 Management of rush pastures
EK21 Legume- and herb-rich swards
EL1 Take field corners out of management in SDAs
EL3 Permanent grassland with very low inputs in SDAs
EL4 Management of rush pastures in SDAs
UC5 Sheep fencing around small woodlands
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