Supported by LEADER Programme funding of £26,825 towards new machinery, a Northamptonshire farmer has produced rapeseed oil certified as both carbon and plastic-neutral, in a world first for any product.

Fourth generation farmer Duncan Farrington has made history with his Farrington's 'Mellow Yellow' cold pressed rapeseed oil. His business has been nurturing healthy soils, reducing waste and recording energy usage for over 25 years, so becoming net zero was the next step.

In 1998 Duncan and his family made the decision to stop ploughing their fields and have been using traditional tillage cultivation and non-plough techniques since. This decision has increased the soil organic matter by 66%. The next stage for the farm was to reduce the need for man-made fertilisers and pesticides, Duncan wanted to achieve this by implementing a no till seed drill.

No till seed drilling is a way to keep nutrients in the soil and lower the environmental impact. This is because there is less weight of machinery on the ground, the movement of the soil decreases and the ability to directly plant the seed. This leads to less disturbance of the organic matter and overall better soil health. There is an increased water absorption, less water run-off, less need for fertilisers and reduced pollution.

Over time, this resulted in a year on year decrease on the reliance of man-made fertilisers and pesticides. Great for the farmer, great for the environment.

Duncan said: “We continue to improve and aim to be carbon negative – removing more carbon from the atmosphere than is produced – through sustainable farming practices where our soils are locking in CO2, planting even more trees and creating more inviting wildlife habitats.”

In a recent blog post, Duncan stated that if this technique and technology was mirrored across the world, “the benefits could be enormous; it has been estimated that agriculture could reduce global CO2 emissions by between 10% and 30%.”

In addition, the farm has become plastic neutral, by enabling the removal and recycling of plastic waste that would otherwise be landfilled or flushed into the oceans.

These aren’t the only benefits that Farrington Oils have seen as a result of their £26,825 LEADER programme funded project. They have also seen a sustainable growth in the overall business, with an increase in income, productivity and further employment. There are now 14 employees working on the farm, far exceeding their growth expectations for this year.

LEADER Programme Manager Will Dallimore said: “I am delighted LEADER could support a farming business that has gained carbon and plastic neutral accreditation. It highlights what a positive impact conservation agriculture techniques can have on the environment. The project is a great example of what a rural business can achieve when it accesses LEADER funding.”

As a Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF) supporter, Duncan has ensured that everything he has learnt from his own farm is shared with local farmers. This knowledge sharing is paramount to influencing and changing behaviours within the farming community.

Duncan hopes to aid other farmers to improve their soil husbandry, he regularly rents his high-tech equipment to other local farmers and even sowed the seeds for a local cricket field last year. In the mission to continue this knowledge sharing Duncan hosted a Chinese delegation group with LEAF, including the Chinese Minister of Agriculture and UN delegate in September 2019.

To find out more about Farrington Oil’s environmental mission, visit www.farrington-oils.co.uk/leaf  and their Mellow Yellow Range at www.farrington-oils.co.uk

The LEADER programme is designed to support rural businesses to create jobs and support the rural economy: www.leader-programme.org.uk/. It is focused on rural areas supporting; small rural companies, farm diversification projects, forestry projects, tourism projects, rural services and cultural and heritage projects.

The LEADER Programme is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and is delivered by Ngage Solutions.

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