Thomas Gent of Gentle Farming was the first UK farmer to join the Agreena Carbon program in the UK, and he has since collaborated with Agreena to bring its carbon payment program to other UK farmers. The system allows a farmer to remain fully in control of their carbon certificates and choose to add as many or as few fields into the system as they feel comfortable with.
Thomas Gent and his family have farmed their 900 hectares of mainly arable land in South Lincolnshire with a strong regenerative focus for over 13 years. One of the first farms in the UK to introduce regenerative principles at scale across all operations, Thomas used his time in the first lockdown to see how the farm could best benefit from different opportunities such as selling carbon credits from soil without losing control to a third party.
After much research, he partnered with Agreena, a Danish start-up that has created a digital system to track and quantify climate improvements, converting them into tradable carbon certificates for farmers. The first UK farm to join its carbon program, Thomas is now supporting other arable farmers across the country to quantify and market the amount of soil carbon they are sequestering in their soils per year.
Agreena is a simple online system that verifies their soil carbon reductions and sequestration through straightforward data input to give farmers a recognised certificate to be able to sell their carbon credits. There are no upfront costs, or risks involved, and the system offers the flexibility to allow farmers to use it as much or as little as fits with their farming enterprises.
Independent third-party certification, international accreditation through the ISO standard, is produced for the farmer, based on the practices they are undertaking, which can then be kept to evidence their own environmental footprint or sold to other businesses that need to offset their carbon use. Importantly, it keeps the power in hands of the farmer. Thomas can support the integration of regenerative practices with advice and guidance based on his own experience and wider knowledge from working with Agreena.
“Carbon payments create a new income stream to incentivise and build on more sustainable farming techniques, where they are rewarded for the level of action they take,” says Thomas. “We have a huge opportunity here to make every farmer a climate hero, but it can be overwhelming as a farmer knowing where to start and who to trust with this valuable commodity. Carbon trading is exciting but it’s complex. You need to seek the right advice and make sure you are in control.”
Thomas has built the Gentle Farming brand to engage wider stakeholders, including the public, with the farming story. This is achieved through open industry collaboration, the creation of digital content, and inviting members of the public with an interest in the countryside to sponsor projects, such as planting wildflowers, to help fund further regenerative practices that the business could not afford to do otherwise.
In 2021, he won Farm491’s Challenge Award, Digging for Innovation. One of the award judges, BASF’s Mike Green, said: “Thomas has used his lockdown to great effect, with consultation and buy-in from what many are only thinking about doing. The focus beyond just carbon is very important and the journey towards full international accreditation shows a wider understanding of the market complexities. A very exciting project and a worthy winner of the competition.”