Winner of the West Midlands Carbon Positive Award

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Congratulations Caplor! Our environmental achievements were recognised earlier this week when Caplor was named Winner of the West Midlands Carbon Positive Award for cutting its carbon footprint.

This award is the result of a real team effort to improve the sustainability of our operations at Caplor. We feel very excited at receiving this award, and it gives us a spring in our step as we continue on our low carbon journey towards creating a more sustainable business.

You can read our full Award Profile below. The same text can also be found on the Sustainability West Midlands website.

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Award scheme

West Midlands’s C+ Carbon Positive Awards

Award

C+ Carbon Positive Footprints 2009 (Winner > 50 employees)

For organisations successfully cutting their carbon emissions and internally managing their carbon footprint.

Organisation

An agriculturally based, rural business in southern Herefordshire that has diversified into mostly property related activities both on and off farm with the setting up of several small limited companies and partnerships. The business has been trading since 1922, with a particular focus on building a positive and sustainable future.

Summary

Caplor Farm is practically concerned with approx. 600 acres of mainly arable cropping. Producing, cereals, potatoes, a fifth year local vegetable supply initiative and a small pedigree Hereford cattle Heard.  Currently developing care farming activities, due to open April 2010.

Non farming business includes low cost residential and office lettings on the farm, lettings off farm including their own letting agency (currently 100 houses) and Portfolio in S Wales and small project in Poland.  Building enterprise includes new homes, renovation and small scale domestic work.  Important development of renewable energy installation, Caplor are able to design supply and install solar PV and Hot water in addition to air and ground source heat pumps.

Finally Caplor have an international involvement with Carbon and Agricultural trial and project work in West Africa.

The challenges

For a rurally based business to develop, diversify and positively contribute toward enhancing a sustainable economy.

The solutions

  • Seven years of reduced tillage cultivation, reducing emissions of CO2 by 1ton / ha in addition to reduced soil erosion.

  • Major use of organic and waste materials to reduce reliance on fossil based fertiliser and improve soil organic matter. 22% fertiliser value from recycled and manure base.
  • All tractors changed to more fuel efficient makes.
  • Increased size of equipment to reduce fuel use per unit of output.
  • For 8 years they have planted the equivalent of a tree per week on the farm.
  • Have grown energy crops on set aside land for bio fuel, also major research into own production of bio-fuel.
  • Local food initiative providing small scale vegetables and eggs to local people via small shop, retail outlets and farmers market.
  • Send waste oil off for re-use.
  • Waste plastic sent for recycle.
  • Erected 15kw wind turbine on the farm.
  • Use of recycled stone in recent build projects to reduce heavy mining need.
  • Purposefully breed Hereford cattle as grass based animals are arguably more efficient use of carbon.
  • Have just completed our second carbon foot print budget for the site and farming business. Reduction shown relative to business size.
  • Plans in for 6kw PV system at the farm.
  • Developed our own offsetting and development project in West Africa.

The results

  • Minimum tillage has reduced CO2 emissions by approx. 2000 tons over seven years with 400 tons in 2007 alone.
  • Made productive use of 25,000 tons of waste materials to reduce our use of fossil based fertilisers.
  • Our tractor changes have reduced fuel use by approx. 10% from previous makes.
  • Machinery policy led to large savings of fuel. E.g. ‘bed tiller’ is now one tractor and machine where there were historically three tractors. Min till oper ation does three jobs in one pass.
  • Planted over 400 trees around the farm.
  • Produced several hundred tons of feedstock for bio fuel through industrial crop growing.
  • Research into Bio fuel production led to project work at Nottingham University in addition to promoting the concept to local councils, organisations and others in the locality.
  • In 2008, supplied the vegetable produce from 6 acres to local outlets and individuals, showing large reductions in food miles.
  • Used approx. 700 tons of recycled stone.
  • This summer our first solar project / heat exchanger heated the hot water requirements for over 100 fruit picking staff.
  • Refitted 8 properties with double glazing in the past three years.
  • Our carbon footprint suggests they have reduced our CO2 output relative to the size of the business.
  • Started an offsetting scheme with the first commercial trial of Jatropha in the Gambia with 10ha so far.

Learning points

Caplor Farm illustrates that agricultural businesses have huge potential to reduce their carbon emissions and the wide variety of ways in which they can become more sustainable.

“If climate issues are ultimately shown to have been over stated then I will be very very pleased to be wrong. I suggest we don’t gamble with our children’s future.”

Sustainability West Midlands comment

We think that Caplor Farm has shown great initiative throughout their businesses and are a leading example of how changing to more sustainable methods can benefit both the environment and local economy.

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