Mr Sharp’s efforts at Tewitthall Farm have been chosen to showcase Arla Foods’ commitment to transform itself into a carbon net zero dairy by 2050.
Arla, Europe’s largest dairy co-operative, plans to work with farmers like Jonathan to reduce carbon emissions produced by farms, dairies and packaging.
Arla said that while managing almost 50% more milk since 2005, its CO2 emissions had reduced by 22% across production and packaging. On farms, CO2 emissions per kilo of milk had reduced by 24% since 1990.
Jonathan is the third generation of his family to run Tewitthall Farm, and has spent over 30 years growing the farm’s milk production and introducing new methods.
He has invested significant funds in green energy production, waste disposal improvements, and the care of his herd of around 130 Holstein cows, which produce more than 9,000 litres per lactation.
In 2012 Jonathan installed a 50KW wind turbine, taking advantage of his position around 1,000 feet above sea level.
Despite the £300,000 cost, Jonathan has since seen a return on this investment through feed-in tariff payments and the sale of exported electricity.
Jonathan said: “There are two farm houses on site and the saving on electricity bills for domestic and business use amounts to about £500 per month. Today, the turbine is producing 225,000kw a year – enough to power 75 houses!”
From Jonathan’s carbon footprint audit, it was suggested he could make better use of the separated slurry from his dairy cows, reducing the amount of nitrogen fertiliser he needed.
He began by sampling the nutrient content of the soil on 25% of the farm every year, along with testing of slurry.
Jonathan said: “This testing programme allowed me to avoid applying any unnecessary nutrients: too much of one nutrient can make it difficult for plants to absorb the other nutrients they need to stay healthy.
“I was also able to persuade my local contractor to use a trailing shoe slurry applicator. This process minimises the percentage of slurry being lost to the atmosphere as ammonium nitrate which contributes towards harmful greenhouse gases.”
Jonathan selects high sugar grass seed for re-seeding his fields as he understands that this type of product is more beneficial to the environment.