Union Welcomes Launch of Scheme to Support Carbon Audits and Soil Testing on Farms and Crofts

Track One of National Test Programme to drive forward sustainable farming in Scotland

NFU Scotland has welcomed the first track of Scottish Government’s National Test Programme (NTP), entitled ‘Preparing for Sustainable Farming’, that sees guidance published for farmers and crofters on how access support for carbon audits and soil testing – both of which will help the sector reduce emissions and improve efficiency.

The guidance is available at: and will open for claims in May.

Scotland is transitioning to a new post-CAP agricultural policy for 2025 that will focus on sustainable production, emission reduction and greater biodiversity. Track One of the NTP recognises the likelihood that carbon auditing and soil testing will be required to unlock funding support in the future.

The NTP was announced by the Cabinet Secretary Mairi Gougeon at the NFU Scotland autumn conference in October 2021 and is supported by up to £51 million over the next three years. Further detail on Track 2 of the Programme will be issued in the coming months.

It builds on the recommendations of Scottish Government’s Farmer-Led Climate Change Groups for suckler beef; arable; dairy; pigs; hill, upland and crofting which reported in 2020 and 2021.  The Agriculture Reform Implementation Oversight Board (ARIOB), co-chaired by the Cabinet Secretary and NFU Scotland President Martin Kennedy, has been charged with overseeing the reforms to agricultural policy in Scotland.

The guidance published today includes information on how to prepare and make a claim towards the cost of carbon audits and soil analysis with links to supporting information. Many are already undertaking such work – carbon audits were an element of the Beef Efficiency Scheme and are a known feature of several supply contracts - but funding to encourage all farmers and crofters to get involved will help create a national baseline.

NFU Scotland President Martin Kennedy said: “Carbon auditing and soil testing, which will include an accurate assessment of the existing carbon stocks in our soils, will create a national baseline and help establish an accurate measurement of how much carbon is sequestered by our crops and improved grassland.  That allows us to highlight the positive benefits for the environment that soil health, crop rotation and grazing management deliver.

“Support for carbon auditing and soil testing will crucially assist nutrient management and drive productivity and efficiency on farms and crofts at a time when all businesses are facing an unprecedented surge in fertiliser prices and looking to use nutrients as efficiently as possible.  

“I would urge all farmers and crofters to look at the funding on offer and take up this opportunity that will help highlight the wider benefits of Scottish food production. They offer the opportunity for every business to improve their bottom line.

“Crucially, it recognises that farmers and crofters are taking their responsibilities around sustainable production seriously, further enhancing the world-wide reputation of our food and drink sector.”  

Notes for Editors

  • The full guidance on ‘Preparing for Sustainable Farming’ is available at:
  • Any farming or crofting business that has an active Business Reference Number and is Rural Payments and Services online registered will be able to apply to receive a standard cost payment of £500 towards having a Carbon Audit (aligned to the PAS 2050 standard) performed for their business where they do not have one already, or where the current Carbon Audit is more than 3 years old.
  • Before applicants can claim for the Soil Analysis and Development Payment they must confirm that they have a Carbon Audit that aligns to PAS 2050 standards.
  • Land managers in Scotland claiming Region 1 land on their annual SAF form will be able to claim actual cost up to a calculated maximum value for their soil sampling. With the first claim they will additionally be paid a standard cost payment to cover personal development.
  • Farmers and crofters with queries on the scheme are encouraged to contact their local Agriculture and Rural Area (ARE) office.  Details at: 


Contact Bob Carruth on 07788 927675

Author: Bob Carruth

Date Published:

News Article No.: 32/22

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About The Author

Bob Carruth

A dairy farmer’s son, I joined NFU Scotland in 1999 after 13 years as an agricultural journalist. Following spells as a regional manager and policy lead on milk, livestock and animal health and welfare, I became Communications Director in 2008.

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