1) Avoid or reduce GHG emissions (including those from inputs used on the farm) through the application of appropriate management practices.
This can be demonstrated in either of the following ways:
- The essential management practices are deployed consistently over the applicable perennial crop production area each year or;
- Reduction in GHG emissions (gCO2e) in line with the following trajectory. For example, a 20% reduction in GHG emissions would be required by 2030 compared to emissions in 2020, and a 30% emissions reduction would be required by 2040 compared to 2020.
2) Maintain and increase existing carbon stocks for a period equal to or greater than 20 years through the application of appropriate management practices.
This can be demonstrated in either of the following ways:
- The essential management practices are deployed consistently over the applicable perennial crop area each year or;
- Above and below ground carbon stocks (tC/ha) to be increased progressively over a minimum 20-year period
Noting the following exception: For soils specifically, where it can be demonstrated that saturation levels have been reached, no further increase in carbon content is expected. In this case, existing levels should be maintained.
3) Production is not undertaken on land that had any of the following status in or after January 2008 and no longer has that status.
a) Wetlands, namely land that is covered with or saturated by water permanently or for a significant part of the year;
b) Continuously forested areas, namely land spanning more than one hectare with trees higher than five metres and a canopy cover of more than 30 %, or trees able to reach those thresholds in situ;
c) Land spanning more than one hectare with trees higher than five metres and a canopy cover of between 10 % and 30 %, or trees able to reach those thresholds in situ;
d) Peatland, unless evidence is provided that the cultivation and harvesting of that raw material does not involve drainage of previously undrained soil.
For those demonstrating compliance with the essential management practices:
The essential management practices are described in the table below. All essential practices will need to be deployed, except where particular practices can be demonstrated to be not applicable to that farm holding given the particular biophysical conditions at that farm holding.
In respect of the essential practice relating to the GHG assessment, this assessment should be done using tools that cover all relevant emissions on the farm associated with production, as well as emissions associated with energy and fuel use (see below for relevant GHG categories). If it can be demonstrated that no carbon assessment tool is currently accessible to farmers in a given location (either because of language or lack of access to farm advisory support), this practice may be omitted in the first instance. The assessment, however, becomes mandatory within a five year period. The assessment is a self-assessment using an appropriate tool, no independent audit or verification of the GHG assessment is required.
To demonstrate compliance with all other essential practices, it will be necessary to establish a farm sustainability management plan which describes the management practices being deployed - taking into account crop husbandry requirements, farm pedo-climatic conditions - and their coverage on the farm. To prepare the farm sustainability management plan a carbon calculator can be used, or the plan can also be prepared using other nutrient decision-support tools.
For those demonstrating compliance with GHG thresholds:
To demonstrate compliance with the quantitative GHG thresholds it will be necessary to establish a Carbon stock and GHG emission baseline for the farm (see below for relevant GHG categories). It will be against such baseline data that emission reductions of Carbon increases can be measured. A carbon audit is necessary in order to also assess where action is needed, and this must be accompanied by a carbon management plan to set out the management practices that will deliver the GHG emissions reduction/ carbon sequestration. This carbon management plan is part of the broader farm sustainability plan.
Where the (remaining) lifecycle of the crop production being financed is less than 20 years, to show broad compliance with the requirement for carbon stocks to increase progressively over a 20 year period, assurance should be sought on the likely replanting of crops to promote the permanence of carbon sequestration trends. It is recognised that uprooting old crops and replacing with new, younger stage crops with a potential fallow/ restoration period between will lead to a reduction in carbon stocks and some emissions. With this in mind, the objective is to ensure overall maintenance of carbon stocks and/ or upward trends in sequestration are sought over multiple rotations.
For all users:
Calculations of carbon stocks and GHG emissions levels should include the following, though it is recognised that in practice, the scope of GHG counted will be subject to the technical capabilities of the GHG accounting tools being used:
- CO2 emissions and removals in above ground biomass
- CO2 emissions and removals in below ground biomass and soils
- N2O emissions from exposed soils, fertiliser application, and those embedded in fertiliser production and fertiliser application
- CH4 emissions from livestock (enteric fermentation and manure management) and some soils (e.g. wetlands)
- CO2 emissions from fuel and electricity use
Emissions, sinks and management practices are all to be audited at 3-year intervals to confirm ongoing compliance with these requirements.
In the case of force majeure:
Emissions resulting from natural disturbance can be excluded from impacting on the achievement of the thresholds and will not affect the application of these requirements or result in non-compliance with these criteria.
Essential management practice GHG C-Seq Co-benefits Farm GHG assessment Undertake a GHG assessment of sources of emissions and sinks on the farm.
Existing and verified tools should be used. No auditing of the GHG assessment is required.
Crop choice and cover (to increase carbon sequestration in soil, reduce fertilizer need, and N20 emissions):
Sowing of cover/catch crops using a locally appropriate species mixture with at least 1 legume and reducing bare soil to the point of having a living plant coverage index of at least 75% at farm level per year.
Soil management (in order to prevent soil erosion and carbon losses from soils):
Prevent soil compaction (frequency and timing of field operations should be planned to avoid traffic on wet soil; tillage operation should be avoided or strongly reduced on wet soils; stock density should be reduced to avoid compaction, especially on wet soils).
Management of carbon-rich soils:
• Avoiding deep ploughing on carbon-rich soils
• Avoiding row crops
• Maintaining a shallower water table – peat
• Maintaining a shallower water table – arable
- Avoid water logging and compaction where land is drained
- Maintain permanent grassland
- No burning of arable stubble except where authority has granted an exemption for plant health reasons
Nutrient management (in order to reduce N20 emissions):
Nutrient management plan to optimize fertilization and improve nitrogen use efficiency. The plan should be based on soil testing, estimating of crops nutrient requirements, recording of nutrient applications, considering field characteristics and soil type, estimating soil nitrogen supply, and where applicable analysis of manure nutrient content prior to application. In addition, it is required that a low emission N-application technology is used (e.g. slurry injection, incorporating manure in the soil within 2 hours of spreading) and fertilizer spreaders which have low coefficient of variation (synthetic fertilizer and farmyard manure (e.g. placing N in the soil via injection), combined with calibration of spreaders.
Structural elements with mitigation benefit (in order to increase C sequestration):
Conversion of low productivity land (e.g. along field edges) into woodland to increase C sequestration and protect against soil erosion.
Minimize post-harvest loss.
Where energy emissions represent greater than 20% of total emissions from non-perennial crop production activity, these emissions should be reduced appropriately for the term of the investment, in line with the trajectory outlined on P11 i.e. by at least 10% compared to a 2020 baseline for a 5 year investment period, 20% compared to a 2020 baseline for a 10 year investment period to 2030, and 30% compared to a 2020 baseline for a 20 year investment period – with pro-rata adjustments for investments of intermediate durations.