It’s clearly understood that improved farm productivity is good for business and more recently, for carbon.

But the challenge has always been how to measure the cost of producing a particular crop with regards to its carbon credentials.

Hutchinsons' new Omnia carbon 'Cost of production' tool has been designed to tackle this, providing users with an in-depth carbon tools on the market.

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Trialled and tested across Hutchinson Helix farms, this tool allows growers to calculate the carbon cost of their operations on a per field basis in terms of both £/tonne CO2/tonne or CO2/ha

To date, Omnia users have been able to identify both the poorest and best performing areas of a field as well as create average cost of production information.

From this autumn, users will be able to calculate on a field and sub-field basis the financial and Co2 equivalent positions related to growing a particular crop. It will be provided in £/ha, £/tonne CO2/tonne or CO2/ha

All the data is presented in map form, so it is possible to see how across a single field, different areas cost different amounts to produce in terms of carbon and pounds, and then also to compare these costs on one screen.

Importantly, it is also possible to bring in additional data, such as yield maps, to see how yield impacts carbon and monetary efficiency. Unsurprisingly, yield is still key in terms of carbon efficiency.

For users with the Omnia Field Scout app, as the combine leaves the field, yield maps automatically download into the system and the cost of production and greenhouse emissions for that field for that year are calculated straight away.

The basis for the values have been provided by the Farm Carbon Toolkit and its Becky Willson, said: “What’s been really interesting and exciting for us has been the ability to take the data contained within our carbon calculator – which has been designed for looking at the carbon balance across the whole farm – and break it down into field, and even sub-field, level.

“This will allow users to delve into greater detail than was available before. In terms of what’s possible from a management perspective, this will enable growers to make far more accurate decisions as the impact of field-management on carbon status is so clear.”

For a grower’s perspective, Helix Technology Development Farm hosts Andrew and William Pitts, of JW Pitts and Sons, located in Northants tested the tool.

Andrew said it offered another layer of accuracy in understanding what it costs to produce a crop – both financially and in terms of carbon. He believed improved level of accuracy helped make better decisions going forward.

After two very wet winters, he said the decision-making he’d faced this autumn was a prime example of how the 'Cost of production' tool could be used. “While our primary cultivation is always direct drilling, this year we’ve got some ground that’s a bit tight, so we’ve had to move the soil.

“Our environmental and carbon footprint is something we’re really prioritising on farm so, in my mind, I’ve had to think about which is the lowest carbon way of moving soil.

"Is it hiring a Challenger? Or would I have been better to run a low disturbance subsoiler over the ground? Now I’ll be able to take the guess work out of it and make educated, informed decisions,” he commented.

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It is becoming increasingly important to be able to show both financial profit and environmental sustainability, he argued, and a tool such as this could put him one step ahead in being able to do this.

Ultimately, the pressure for net zero will continue and he reckoned if he can show end market buyers the value of his carbon emissions for a particular crop, then that would put him in a stronger position as a supplier.