Carbon Emissions & Biodiversity Evaluation Programme

Learn more about Jersey Dairy’s carbon emissions and biodiversity evaluation programme as we hear from Jack Irving, Technical Liaison Officer at Jersey Dairy.

My name is Jack Irving, and I have recently joined Jersey Dairy to assist the industry in reducing its environmental impact and becoming more sustainable. As a chemistry graduate from the University of Sussex, I have always been fascinated by pollution control and climate change. This interest led me to undertake my third-year project, “The Investigation into the Concentrations of Harmful and Beneficial Ions Within Plants in Areas of Differing Levels of Pollution within Brighton”.

As someone who is interested in understanding how things work at a molecular level, I am excited to explore the interaction between agriculture and climate science. I have previously worked at C5 Alliance and Jersey Water and am happy to see all my skills being utilised and to be facing new challenges each week. Since starting, I have had the pleasure of working with the dairy farmers directly, acting as a direct liaison at times, and I am pleased to report that I have not yet encountered a pitchfork!

Jack Irving – Technical Liaison Officer

Jersey Dairy is excited to announce its new partnership with UK firm Trinity AgTech to provide a credible and bespoke carbon emission and biodiversity evaluation programme for our thirteen dairy farms and the Dairy facility based in Trinity.

Trinity AgTech is a leading provider of innovative software solutions for the agricultural industry. With the growing need for sustainable farming practices, Trinity AgTech has developed “Sandy”, an online platform that enables farmers to quantifiably measure their carbon emissions and natural farm capital. Natural farm capital refers to the natural resources, such as soil health, water quality and biodiversity that farms rely on for sustainability, profitability, and productivity.

This new technology has allowed Jersey Dairy and our farms to start accurately measuring CO2 and methane emissions, leading the way in sustainable dairy farming, and gathering important data ahead of the Government of Jersey’s Carbon-Neutral Strategy.

As the dairy farm on-boarding process develops, Sandy’s different modules enables a more tailored and personal direction when measuring carbon emissions. Here at Jersey Dairy, we are working with Trinity AgTech to develop the pack housing and production module. Having functionality all the way through the supply chain is a massive benefit to Jersey Dairy, especially when achieving a true representation of the Dairy’s carbon emissions, from cow to carton.

My time at Jersey Dairy so far has seen an exciting collaboration between myself, the farmers and Trinity AgTech. When working with thirteen different dairy farms with vast amounts of data, it is important to have a system that does not ‘reinvent the wheel’. No two dairy farms collects and stores information in the same way. Sandy accommodates for this through the option of uploading data from pre-existing systems such as ‘Muddyboots’ and ‘Gatekeeper’, whilst also offering an Excel spreadsheet alternative.

It’s not just about ease of input; Sandy requires an adaptable ability to work with and manage the different farming methods Jersey has to offer. While working with Phil Le Maistre at Master Farms, it is evident that every factor on the farm has been considered. The many different enterprises that Master Farms incorporate are a great example of the complexity that Sandy can manage. Consideration of crop and grazing rotation, livestock feed analysis, and renewal sward composition are a few examples. Regardless of farm size and farming systems, there is an ability to provide pertinent insight into sustainability for each dairy farm.

Since partnering with Trinity AgTech, it has become apparent that they focus on a holistic approach. Sandy provides a scientific and comprehensive methodology to measuring carbon and sustainability, using modern technology and models from IPCC’s latest 2019 guidelines (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) to accurately measure grassland and soil carbon sequestration. As a result, Jersey Dairy farmers can easily monitor the carbon status of their farms and create a realistic and cost effective net zero mitigation report at the click of a button.

Another example of their recent technology is the biodiversity module. This module is unique to other biodiversity tools as it produces a framework which incorporates the thousands of species a farmland hosts which is optimised by the integrated mapping of the farms.

It’s easy to make the mistake of focusing too much on the carbon aspect, when fundamentally our soil and habitat biodiversity are just as important to the Dairy. All dairy farmers work closely with Piers Sangan from Sangan Island Conservation and have Environmental Enhancement plans in place to continually improve the biodiversity on all our farms. In the future it will be exciting to see the incorporation of Sandy’s biodiversity module within the agricultural sector. It is destined to link well with Jersey’s new frameworks, such as their Wildlife (Jersey) Law 2021 and their more recent publication of the Jersey Tree Strategy 2022.

As I understand more about the Jersey farming practices, I have come to see that almost everyone and their neighbour is involved in land swapping.

This synergistic approach to farming throughout the sector is not recent news, and while incorrect perceptions may run the wrong story, the ever-developing unity amongst farmers within the industry is predicted to increase. As we start to see other agricultural firms partner with Trinity AgTech, Jersey is anticipated to be at the forefront of reducing emissions.

Now unexpectedly, I have found myself helping to facilitate the push for greater funding from the Government of Jersey’s agriculture Credit Scheme, which replaces the old form of farm subsidies. Full utilisation of Sandy’s analytical reports and carbon offset suggestions will provide substantial evidence when arguing for increased support from the government.

There are no secrets about the unparalleled challenges that farmers have faced over recent years. With 2022 highlighting the importance of business resilience and giving predictions of a further increase in operating costs in 2023. This is in addition to often receiving unfair and negative public perceptions of the industry as polluting and lacking concern for our island. However, this is far from the truth.

By evaluating and quantifying the environmental performance of our dairy farms, we can hope to dispel some of the misconceptions. By showcasing the results of our good farming practices, we can demonstrate the amount of carbon being removed through sequestration, whilst at the same time enhancing and preserving our valuable countryside.

In the upcoming years, the collaboration between Trinity AgTech’s “Sandy” and Jersey Dairy is expected to play a crucial role in determining the future of Jersey’s agricultural sector. Dairy farmers have faced numerous challenges in the past and have united to overcome them. With Sandy’s help, they can now build on this and better understand their carbon footprint and environmental impact. The ability to provide quantifiable data and evidence will be instrumental in providing food security, profitability, and sustainability, which are all crucial factors for the industry’s future and Jersey’s aim towards carbon neutrality.

Phil Le Maistre, dairy farmer and chairman of Jersey Milk Marketing Board, had this to say from the producers’ point of view:

“I have really enjoyed working with Jack collating all the data to input onto the Trinity AgTech platform. The real positive for me is that as with the LEAF Marque scheme all sectors of the farming community are engaging with Trinity AgTech to measure and monitor our carbon emissions so we can hopefully add value to our two unique brands, Jersey Dairy and the Jersey Royal Potato.

The other benefit of using the Trinity AgTech system is that we will be able to see the effect of changing our farming practices to further reduce our carbon emissions in the future.”

Phil Le Maistre, Chairman of the JMMB and his son, Phil, from Master Farms