Why the TMAF Flux Towers are significant
This project at Morley will be an industry-leading carbon measurement project. A pair of flux towers in two neighbouring fields will measure carbon emissions from and uptake into the sugar beet crop.
Why TMAF is interested in carbon monitoring
With an industry target to reach net zero in agriculture by 2040 it is imperative that emissions are quantified and addressed on farm. Currently this is driven by the use of carbon calculators which use greenhouse gas emissions data on inputs and outputs to calculate overall emissions.
These calculators are a starting point in getting growers to think about emissions and how they might reduce them. However, a significant limitation is that each calculator uses different values and methods to calculate emissions and it isn’t often clear how they have been sourced.
There is a need to measure actual emissions to understand where we are, rather than relying on questionable data. This also needs to be taken further as there is little data on the impact of some key crop management decisions on emissions. For example, we know reducing fertiliser input will reduce emissions, but what impact do cover crops and ploughing have?
Where the TMAF flux towers will monitor carbon
Each field will have different management practices, such as cover crop vs. stubble and ploughing vs. reduced tillage. Crop and soil carbon will also be assessed to understand carbon sequestration. Yield will be recorded to understand the balance between optimising yield and reducing emissions. The aim of the project is to calculate carbon emissions from a sugar beet field under typical management practices and quantify the impact alternative approaches have on emissions.
We have chosen the two fields where the flux towers have been built. One has been ploughed whilst the other has a cover crop. Siting the flux towers was a challenge as large fields are required to ensure the measurements from the towers are of the field in which they are placed and not of neighbouring crops or hedges and trees.
The flux towers and associated equipment were erected in January 2023. The fields will undergo further tillage before the sowing of sugar beet in early spring. We look forward to presenting the data from the first season in January 2024.