NFU Cymru members gained valuable insight into how to cut energy costs and improve efficiency at a special event hosted by NFU Energy and NFU Cymru.

The Driving Cost and Carbon Out of Your Business event, which took place on the Royal Welsh Showground, provided farmers with practical guidance on improving resilience and sustainability in the face of present and future challenges.

NFU Cymru president Aled Jones opened the conference by highlighting the current market stresses and rising costs of feed and fertiliser that are causing worry and uncertainty for farming business.

The first session of the day saw NFU Energy technical director Jon Swain give the audience advice on techniques and technologies they can employ on farm to reduce energy costs.

NFU Cymru rural affairs board member Llŷr Jones then addressed the meeting to give examples of the green energy initiatives he has carried out on his farm, Derwydd, in Llanfihangel Glyn Myfyr, near Corwen.

Next up was NFU chief combinable crops adviser Anthony Hopkins, who explored the current challenges posed by high gas prices and how this is impacting on fertiliser and crop nutrients.

Gelli Aur Agriculture Research Centre’s Smart project manager, John Owen, provided members with advice on making best use of farm slurry, as well as a broad overview of current research projects at Gelli Aur, including the Tywi Farm Nutrient Partnership, Tywydd Tywi Weather and Animal Health and Welfare Wales projects.

Finally, Bruno Gardner, managing director at NFU EnZero, discussed emerging environmental markets and what they could mean for farmers, principally investigating the notion of carbon credits and the potential commercial opportunities and pitfalls posed by carbon off-setting.

The floor was then opened up to a positive question and answer session led by NFU Cymru deputy president Abi Reader, who also encouraged farmers to attend a series of post-lunch break-out sessions to discuss the nuances of their respective businesses’ energy needs with the experts from NFU Energy and NFU EnZero.

Speaking after the event, NFU Cymru president Aled Jones said: “Farming is responding to huge upheaval and significant market stresses and there is an urgent need to safeguard both food security and energy security at national level.

“Of course, these significant challenges are set against an ever-increasing focus on the environment and reaching our net zero 2040 ambition.

"This aspiration is based upon reducing emissions and harnessing our near-unique ability as a sector to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere – either as nature-based carbon storage in enhanced hedgerows, farm woodland and soils, or as ‘engineered’ carbon removals based upon bioenergy, bio-based materials in construction and long-lived capital goods.

“We firmly believe that farming is very much part of the solution. While every farm is at a different stage of the net zero journey, it’s really important to note that this is a national aspiration and not an expectation that every farm can reach net zero.

"The success of our ambition, however, relies on each and every farmer making changes in on-farm practice; the name of the game is resource use efficiency. Reducing inputs while preserving levels of output can only help to cushion the impacts of increased fertiliser and fuel prices.

“While it is without doubt a challenging time, it is not without opportunity.”

NFU Cymru members can watch a number of sessions from the Driving Cost and Carbon Out of Your Business event on the NFU Cymru website.