Research projects

Greenhouse Gas Platform: Data Synthesis, Modelling and Management project

Code : AC0114

Contract Period : 01/11/2010 - 01/06/2015

Project Webpage :

Main Funder : Defra and devolved administration governments

ORC Staff Contact : Laurence Graham Smith

The Greenhouse Gas Research Platform is a Defra and devolved administration funded research programme that seeks to improve the accuracy and resolution of our greenhouse gas reporting system for UK agriculture

Project Aims:

Gases such as methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) are an important factor in climate change (alongside carbon dioxide CO2). Agriculture contributes about 9% of the United Kingdom Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions as methane (from livestock and their manures) and nitrous oxide (from fertiliser application to soil and livestock excreta). Emissions are calculated and reported annually in an official Emissions Inventory. However, the way that agricultural emissions are presently estimated fails to take into account the regional differences between farming practices, soils and climate or some of the effects of mitigation measures introduced by government policy and changes in the agricultural industry.

The Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Platform is a research programme with a total investment of £12.6 million, funded by Defra and the devolved administration governments. It seeks to improve the accuracy and resolution of our reporting system by providing new experimental evidence on the factors affecting emissions and statistics relevant to changing farming practices in the UK.

The Platform aims to deliver an improved reporting system through three closely linked projects:

  1. Data Synthesis, Modelling and Management: project AC0114 – This project will provide a synthesis of existing and new evidence on GHG emission factors and the effectiveness of mitigating measures, provided by literature review and the partner projects. This will be integrated with UK agricultural statistics and data on farm practices to define an improved Emissions Inventory structure for reporting and tracking change. This will be supported by the development of a robust methodology to quantify the uncertainty in emission estimates
  2. Methane (CH4) Emissions: project AC0115 – This project will measure methane emissions from different livestock types under different farming systems representative of the UK. The aim is to understand how animal nutrition, rumen additives, genetic differences , and farming systems affect emissions (and hence how they might be reduced). It will also produce emission factors that better represent livestock management in the UK.
  3. Nitrous Oxide (N2O) Emissions: project AC0116 – This project will measure nitrous oxide emissions from soils (the most important source), taking account of influencing factors such as the amount and timing of manufactured and organic nitrogen applications, and the use of nitrification inhibitors. The aim is to understand the major factors controlling the amount of nitrous oxide released from soil and produce emission factors that better reflect the range of soils, climate, crop and soil management within the UK.

Outputs from the three projects will also be closely coordinated with concurrent Defra project AC0112 (Inventories of ammonia and greenhouse gases from UK agriculture), which delivers an annual UK GHG reporting mechanism fit for submission to the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

ORC's Role:

The Organic Research Centre is playing a major role within the Data Synthesis, Modelling and Management project (project code AC0114) through assessing the suitability of industry and government level farm-practice data for inclusion within the working inventory. The Organic Research Centre is also contributing to the development of a revised inventory structure, through helping to define the (organic and non-organic) farm systems that will be included within the annual reporting.

Finally the Organic Research Centre is responsible for Knowledge Exchange with industry across the Greenhouse Gas Platform projects and organising workshops to facilitate the transfer of expertise and data from industry sources.

Current progress highlights:

The first cross Platform meeting was held in York on the 10-11th of January 2012. The meeting brought together researchers involved in the three GHG Platform projects (AC0114, AC0115 and AC0116) to encourage between-project interaction among the researchers involved in the three projects and to provide a greater understanding of how their individual outputs will contribute to the improved inventory. It also provided an overview of activities to date and plans for the year ahead.

Key Achievements:

The Data Synthesis, Modelling and Management project created an overarching Platform website in June 2011 and it has become a useful resource to find out what is going on ( There have been several posters and descriptive papers. All publications related to the project will be available for download (or linked to) from the website.

BBC Farming Today featured the work of the platform in April 2011.

The project has drafted a document describing the scope and functionality of the new inventory. Behind this document lies a balancing of the needs of stakeholders and the availability of farm practice data from all around the UK. Discussions and agreements have been made with the devolved administrations who are responsible for their own statistics.

The project team has been working closely with Defra statistics to include questions relevant to greenhouse gas emissions in the Farm Practice Survey. They have been resolving ownership and accessibility issues relating to private data sources and will shortly access the first sets of farm practice data from industry bodies. Considerable work has also been carried out in collating and reviewing existing experimental emissions datasets from the UK and abroad.

The AC0114 project have reviewed the suitability of a range of industry and governmental level data sources, for improving the annual GHG reporting for UK agriculture. Summaries of the datasets that are potentially available and the information they can provide, are contained within a Critical Appraisal Document, submitted to the project funders at the end of Jan 2012.

Computer models are also being used by the project team at Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) to explore the sensitivities of N2O emissions to UK soil type and rainfall, to help plan the location of field experiments.

Project leader and partners:


  1. National Level Statistics Workshop: Proceedings (PDF 178KB)
    The workshop was organised in two phases. The first phase consisted of presentations by AC0114 team members and Defra data analysts on the existing Inventory methodology and key national statistics.
  2. Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Inventory End User Requirements workshop: Proceedings (PDF 362KB)
    A workshop was held on 9th March 2011 at the Best Western Westley Hotel, Birmingham, for stakeholders to discuss initial proposals for the disaggregation of the UK agricultural sector into representative farming systems. The workshop also identified mitigation methods that should be explicitly represented in the improved Inventory methodology.


  1. Greenhouse Gas Platform Press Release Dec 2010 (PDF 394KB)
  2. Greenhouse Gas Platform Newsletter – Summer 2011 (PDF 866KB)
  3. Greenhouse Gas Platform Project Introduction Flyer (PDF 277KB)
  4. Farm Business Survey: Supporting the UK GHG Platform: Gerrard, C.L., Smith, L.G., Pearce, B., Williams, A. Poster presented at Cross platform meeting for GHG platform (PDF 261KB), 10-11 January

All sources of funding: