Using the Calculator
- Can it be used by all farm types?
Yes. The Calculator can be used by farmers and growers with livestock, arable, horticulture, etc. This includes farms on any scale, soil type or place in the UK.
- What's new?
- How long will it take to fill in?
This depends on how complex your business is and how organised your records are! The longest part is collating your data in the first place, which could take anything from two or three hours to a whole day. However, once you know where to get the data needed, subsequent times are much quicker.
Filling in data to the Calculator itself is straight forward once you have the necessary data, between around 30 mins and 2 hours.
- How much does it cost?
The Farm Carbon Calculator is free for all farmers and growers who are not using it for directly profitable purposes.
- How do you calculate your carbon footprint?
You need to enter data about your farm business, and through the Calculator we convert this in to a carbon footprint. We ask you for details about the following areas of your farm:
Fuels, electricity and business travel
Materials, machinery and buildings
Cropping and fertility
Inputs (fertilisers and sprays)
Waste and recycling
Distribution (where applicable)
Processing (where appropriate e.g. packhouses, stores and wineries)
Carbon sequestration in soils and biomass
Once you have the information, you fill in your data in our Carbon Calculator. To do this follow the instructions in the video on the Calculator home page, or use this guide.
- What will it show me?
It will show you the total carbon emissions and carbon offsets, expressed as tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), percentage of total emissions/sequestration, and the carbon balance of your business.
The results also show full detail of the emissions/offsets for every item you enter in the Calculator. Live results also appear as you enter in data, enabling you to compare the results of different items.
Results are shown in varying levels of detail, highlight emissions hotspots, show Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, emissions of CO2e, nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4).
- Where can I get more guidance for filling in the Calculator?
Details: Gathering data for the Farm Carbon Calculator is often the most time consuming part of doing your carbon footprint. This spreadsheet lists every item you can fill in, gives you the units required (e.g. tonnes or hectares), and helpful hints on where to access information.
All data you require for the Calculator relates only to your business, over the previous 12 months (except for capital items, which is anything under 10 years). If it doesn’t apply to you, move on to the next item/section/page.
We also provide versions for organic farmers & growers, and farms without livestock.
More guides are also available on our Resources page.
- What does "Lock report" do?
If you're looking through lists of reports, either to compare them or find them in "My Dashboard", it can be useful to see at a glance which ones are complete or in use. The "Lock report" button - which appears on the results page for each report - is used to let you mark that a report is finished.
Once it is locked, you will no longer be able to edit it. You will still be able to make a copy of the locked report from "My Dashboard" and edit that copy.
You will be able to see at a glance in any table that lists your reports (e.g. in "My Dashboard" or when making comparisons) which reports are locked - they will have a padlock icon in the "Locked" column.
- Can I unlock a report?
No. Once a report has been locked you cannot unlock it. You can, however, make a copy of the locked report which will be "unlocked" and editable.
Behind the Calculator lies a robust and detailed structure to calculate the carbon emissions and sequestration factors that ultimately give you a Carbon Report.
We have outlined what methodology we follow and how Standards structure our work in the following documents and give an overview of how the calculations behind the Calculator work and references upon which they are based:
- Updates to the Calculator
We aim to update the Farm Carbon Calculator at least twice a year, sometimes more often. We always publish a list of what has changed since the previous update here in the Resources section.
When any emissions or sequestration factors are updated in the Calculator, there will be a change in the carbon footprint of those particular items. Often these are relatively small changes, but in any case are due to new research or changes in scientific understanding of processes.
For new reports all factors will be derived from the updated list of factors.
This document provides an overview of what’s new for the latest update of the Farm Carbon Calculator (May 2023)
- Confidence levels
In the Report you will see a reference to Confidence Levels in the results. This refers to how much confidence we have in the actual figures produced by the Calculator for each item, on a range from 1 to 3, where:
1 - lower confidence
3 - high confidence
This is because some items are inherently far more reliable and understood than others. For instance, diesel or electricity is high confidence - you know how much you've used and therefore the calculation for what the emissions are is quite mathematical.
Conversely emissions from compost, or sequestration in hedgerows are difficult to be accurate with because they are biological and therefore there are a lot of variables.
We therefore have the Confidence levels to give transparency. Please bear in mind however that every emissions/sequestration factor is backed up by firm science and we aim to provide the most accurate figures available.
- What's included/excluded?
The scope of the Calculator is scopes 1, 2 and 3 – meaning it is comprehensive and covers direct and indirect emissions. In IPCC Livestock calculations it covers Tiers 1 and 2.
In line with other carbon calculators, we recognise that there is no one national or international standard that covers the exact requirements of a farm carbon report.
PAS 2050 is widely used to calculate the GHG emissions from various products and services. Its methodology is used in the Calculator, however its scope falls short of what is required for a complete farm carbon footprint, in that it doesn’t include Scope 3 (indirect) emissions, nor carbon sequestration. Therefore our reports are only PAS 2050 compliant for the areas of which the Standard covers.
We believe that this wider scope of the Calculator means the Farm Carbon Calculator is far more comprehensive and accurate for the user.
- Renewables exported to grid
In line with the GHG protocol agricultural guidance 2014 we no longer include "avoided emissions" for energy exported to the grid (electricity or biogas). The GHG protocol provides detailed guidance on how to properly monitor and report on grid-connected energy projects here.
- How are livestock emissions calculated?
Total livestock emissions are made up of several component parts, such as methane released from their manure and also the animals enteric emissions. There are also factors that can impact each component of the calculation as well.
For example, changing how the animals manure is handled (e.g. slurry vs farm yard manure) can impact the direct N2O emissions. Changing the level of dry matter intake can also impact enteric emissions. We recommend inputting as much data as possible in order to get the most accurate reporting. There is more detail in our methodology document.
- How do I record the average number of livestock I had on the farm last year?
To arrive at your average figure, you can add together the total amount of livestock that was on the farm in each month, and then divide the total by 12. To keep things consistent, we suggest using the number that were on the farm on the first day of each month.
For example, let’s say you’re working out batches (e.g. for chickens), and that you have 10,000 chickens, across 6 batches, for 30 days at a time (per batch). Your average would be 5,000.
This is because there are 10k chickens on the farm for 6 months of the year, and none for the other 6 months. Adding 6 lots of 10k together (and 6 lots of 0) = 60k. Dividing by 12, you should arrive at 5,000.
- Why does it matter how the average is recorded?
Put simply, you can end up over or underestimating your emissions depending on how you’re recording the numbers - so it’s best to be as consistent as possible. If you take figures from your average from the start of one month and the middle of the next, your data (and results) are likely to be skewed.
- How does weight and number of livestock affect carbon in the report?
Both the weight and number of livestock do have an impact on emissions, but to different extents. The quantity of animals will generally impact the farm’s carbon footprint more than their average liveweight (we provide a default liveweight for each category of livestock in case you don’t have figures to hand).
The weight of animals helps to estimate how much they will excrete and therefore estimate the greenhouse gases emitted from the management of manures. Entering “1” in the average head of livestock calculates emissions from enteric emissions and manure-related emissions assuming that one animal of the given weight was on the farm excreting every day of that year.
This is why it is important to calculate an average for animals reared in batches or for animals that are only on the farm for part of the year (e.g. “bed and breakfast” animals, calves, replacements), otherwise emissions will be over-estimated.
Data & Reporting
- Can I export my data?
How do I download the carbon data from my Calculator report?
Simply head to your report results and hover over the download button - you will see options here for PDF, CSV and JSON download. The PDF option will give you summary charts and tables as they are shown on the results page of the online Calculator while CSV provides key information about the report, as well as the emissions associated with each item you entered in the Calculator (as a breakdown) in a tabular format. JSON allows you to access all the data you have entered into the Calculator for that report as well as the emissions calculated for each item you entered.
How do I download the data I have entered in the Calculator?
Simply head to your report results and hover over the download button - you will see options here for JSON format. JSON allows you to access the data you put into the calculator (for example how many tonnes of red diesel you entered) as well as the emissions that were calculated for each item you entered.
What is JSON format?
Carbon reports are complicated, just like farming systems and businesses. Being able to share data and what it means between software platforms is also challenging, especially for data as complex as the reports you will produce using the Farm Carbon Calculator. To allow users to get the most from the process, we use JSON (which is a standard data format for representing bundles of different types of information) as a download to quickly provide all the data that you have inputted, as well as the results of the carbon calculation process. Other software platforms (such as farm management systems or reporting bodies) will be able to extract the data you need to share with them from these files.
- How do I compare reports in the Calculator?
From the ‘Results’ section of any report, click the ‘Compare’ button. You’ll be taken to a selection screen where you can choose up to 5 reports to compare, and select either Timeline view or Compare view (explained below). Alternatively access the ‘Compare’ button from the sidebar on your dashboard (next to “My Reports”).
What's the difference between 'Timeline' and 'Compare'?
‘Compare’ will allow you to view key metrics side by side for up to 5 reports - for example, seeing sequestration or carbon balance figures for several different farms. ‘Timeline’ plots the key data points from your reports over time, and allows you to track your progress toward net zero (in this case select reports that apply to the same farm or enterprise).
Why can I only compare 5 reports?
Currently we support comparison of 5 reports. Please do get in touch if you have a specific reporting need that involves comparison of more reports and we can discuss some of our professional licences.
- Can I create a product footprint?
The Farm Carbon Calculator is generally designed to calculate the footprint of a whole farm, but it can also be used to generate product footprints.
To do this you will need to create an Overheads report to capture things that are common to the whole farm, such as Machinery, Buildings, Woodland and Hedges. We have a detailed guide to setting up an Overheads report in the Resources section.
For instance, you might have dairy cows, an arable operation, plus beef. You can calculate the footprint of any one of those separately if required.
First of all, work out what processes and inputs are used specifically for each of the three enterprises. Then work out what is common to all enterprises - e.g. buildings, machinery, office, woodland, hedges, etc. For these common elements, put everything in an Overheads report. This Overheads video offers a walk-through guide.
Then create a product report (e.g. 'Wheat 2022') - add in the Overheads report, then all the inputs used for the wheat - e.g. diesel, electricity, fertiliser, distribution, etc. This will give you an accurate footprint for the wheat out of your farm.
Repeat the process for the dairy and beef enterprises.
- Business Types
When setting up a new Carbon Report, you are asked to choose a Business Type. This is so you can be clear what enterprises on the farm are being included, and we can assess data in the back-end of the system to generate (anonymous and aggregated) valuable benchmarking figures for sectors.
There are various categories; tick any that are relevant to your business:
Arable, Beef, Dairy, Fruit, Lowland grazing, Mixed (arable/livestock), Other, Pigs, Potatoes, Poultry - layers, Poultry - meat, Sheep, Upland grazing, Vegetables, Vineyards, Processing, Wineries, Non-agricultural business.
- Do you offer consultancy services?
Calculated your carbon footprint, but need some more help? We can assist your business in taking the next steps.
We offer consultancy and training services to farmers and growers, organisations, and food chain businesses. This can include interpreting results, verifying data, creating a Carbon Action Plan, or doing soil analysis on your farm. Please see here for more information.
- Receiving advice from us - for farmers and consultants
There is advice on how to use the Calculator throughout this website (plus a video here). If you are unable to find the answers you’re looking for, please contact us and we'll do our best to support you.
To understand the meaning of your carbon report and plan your low carbon journey, please browse our Toolkit and the various case studies on our website. If you’re a farmer with specific questions then we will do our best to answer them for you – please contact us. For anything more detailed, we offer consultancy services for farmers, advisors and companies.