BIGGER hedges and planting more trees and woodland are one of the key ways British farming will achieve its target of reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.

The NFU published details of its plan to achieve its ambitious target on Tuesday.

"Achieving Net Zero: Farming's 2040 Goal" revealed three main planks on which its ambition will be built.

They are to improve farming's productive efficiency; improving land management and changing land use to capture more carbon; boosting renewable energy and the wider bio-economy.

The first is about reducing emissions, using a wider variety of techniques to enhance productivity and deliver the same output or more from every farm, and using fewer inputs.

The second is about increasing farming's ability to capture more carbon through bigger hedgerows, more trees and woodland, enhancing soil organic matter and conserving existing carbon stores in grassland and pasture.

The third involves displacing greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through bio-energy and bio-based materials such as hemp fibre and sheep's wool.

Minette Batters, NFU President, said climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our time.

"Representing British farming, we recognise our unique position as both a source and a store for greenhouse gas emissions and, importantly, how we can build on our work so far to deliver climate neutral farming in the next 20 years.

"We aspire to produce the most climate-friendly food in the world. The carbon footprint of British red meat is only 40 per cent of the world average and we can go further, whether that is through improving our productivity, using our own land to take up and store carbon, planting hedgerows and trees to capture even more, and boosting our renewable energy output. We know that there is no single answer to the climate change challenge facing us all.

"That is why we must work across a range of internationally recognised inventories and utilise the best available science, working in partnership with concerted support from government, stakeholders and the wider supply chain. The 'white paper' provides a strong foundation on which to talk to others about joining us on our journey."

She said the NFU has a sense of urgency about achieving its target. She called for pilots to be implemented of the new Environmental Land Management scheme and productivity scheme to see how they would work on the ground. A new shared prosperity fund for rural development was also needed and support from the current Industrial Strategy was crucial.

Mrs Batters said they could deliver net zero while retaining, if not increasing, agricultural capacity.

She said: "British farmers are proud to produce food to some of the highest standards of animal welfare and environmental production in the world. We must avoid anything that undermines UK food production, and merely exports our greenhouse gas emissions to other parts of the world."