Your beef enterprise: how to accurately estimate emissions and sequestration

To accurately estimate the emissions and sequestration from your beef enterprise, you will need to add data to the following sections of the Calculator:

  • When setting up the report, make sure you enter the area of grazing (grassland) as well as any non-agricultural land area and cultivated land (arable or horticultural)
  • Use the Livestock section and select beef cattle. Add as many entries as you need to cover your herd. For example, you may have two groups of steers with different liveweights or kept on the farm for different lengths of time. In which case, enter the steers from the first group with one liveweight and then the steers from the second group as a separate entry with their own liveweight. This will give you more accurate emissions from their enteric fermentation (gut methane).
  • To calculate the average head of livestock on the farm over a 12 month period, take the number in a particular livestock category per month (so you have 12 “snapshots”) add these together and then divide by 12. Our data collection sheet has a help sheet for this. For growing animals, you may want to use the same approach for calculating average liveweight (our defaults assume a midpoint liveweight through the year for growing cattle but growth rates won’t be linear so using the snapshot approach may be more accurate)
  • Livestock entries also capture the CO2 equivalent (CO2e) of the methane emissions from enteric fermentation and of the nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from the animals’ manure over the course of the year. The Calculator asks you how this manure is managed as this has an impact on the N2O emissions
  • You have the option to input the average dry matter intake (DMI) per animal per day (kgDM/head/day). The DMI can be used to more accurately calculate the enteric emissions of the cattle, and if left blank, a simpler algorithm will be used that does not consider DMI
  • You will need to account for any supplemental feeding via the Livestock > Animal feeds option – this is for brought-in feeds that were produced off-farm
  • Account for all your fuel use, electricity use, consumables, inventory items and waste produced using the relevant sections (Fuels, Materials,  Inventory, Waste). However, if you also have a dairy herd or arable operation, you may prefer to create a separate report and use this as an Overheads report to apportion shared capital items and energy usage emissions between your enterprises. Watch our video to see how this works in practice.
  • We recommend getting your soil sampled and have a guide on how to do this effectively and affordably. By monitoring your soil organic matter or soil organic carbon over time you can begin to log sequestration rates in your grazed (or other) soils. Once you have two years’ worth of soil sample results, you can enter these in the Calculator under Sequestration > Soil Organic Matter (you will also need bulk density measurements and a record of the depth of the sample).
  • If you don’t have directly sampled soil data for all your soils, you can use our range of proxy values for different Countryside Stewardship and habitat classes to estimate how much carbon your soils may be sequestering year-on-year. You can also measure the length of any hedgerows and field margins (ungrazed) and enter these to estimate the carbon sequestered in them on a yearly basis.