This section provides useful information, tips and resources relating to improving environmental sustainability on thoroughbred stud farms.
The TBA’s environmental sustainability work commenced with a landmark case study of the environmental impact of two stud farms in 2021. The project proved instrumental in providing evidence of the impact of stud farms, their strengths and weaknesses.
As a result of the study in 2021, the TBA produced a Environmental Sustainability Guide filled with handy hints and tips to improve the natural world in which stud farms operate. The guide is available on this page exclusively for TBA members.
Please view the latest TBA podcasts here, which features updates on Environmental Sustainability.
Optimising Environmental Sustainability on Stud Farms
Environmental impact assessments and carbon calculations were carried out on two different stud farms (one in Newmarket and the other in the West Country), in May 2021. The headline findings from these studies were shared with TBA members at the virtual AGM on Wednesday, 14 July 2021 and have since been uploaded to the TBA’s e-learning platform, TB-Ed https://tb-ed.co.uk/ (register to view the free resource).
The assessments looked at biodiversity, emissions, carbon storage, soil health and water quality. As a low input grassland management sector, it was identified that Thoroughbred breeders were likely to already be in a strong position, but the Climate Change Act (amended 2019) pledged to reduce all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 and all sectors are likely to come under increased scrutiny.
The Agriculture Act (2020) announced the gradual phasing out of the Basic Payments Scheme and whilst the new Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) is yet to be introduced, it is thought that it is likely to award public monies for public ‘goods’, such as enhanced air and water quality; improved soil health; increased biodiversity; flood mitigation measures; as well as public access and heritage preservation. The TBA wanted to support breeders in optimising the sustainability of their farms and in transitioning to the new subsidies framework.
The case studies identified biodiversity opportunities with wildlife corridors (positioning of woodlands, hedgerows and infield features); prioritisation of native plant and tree species and diversification of the native species; and the importance of layers in woodland (low-growing native species of shrubs and brash and retention of deadwood). Several grants may be accessible for woodland, with the England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO) Scheme supplying funding for the planting and management of native species in suitable locations and the Woodland Improvement Scheme, that may potentially provide funding for the replacement of non-native Sycamores, that can cause Atypical Myopathy.
Stud farms were considered to be effective carbon stores with the soil under paddocks and plant material in mature woodlands storing carbon and active sequestration in younger woodland. However, the carbon emissions from the horses themselves and any other livestock grazing the premises; as well as horse transport; feed (soya); and bedding providing challenges for the industry to consider over the coming months and years.
Soil health could potentially be improved with the return of organic matter from composted horse manure to paddocks. Soil compaction was a risk where there was frequent rolling of paddocks, whilst poaching of gateways and water troughs could be reduced with their placement on higher land, as well as the stoning of these high frequency areas.
Ideally, natural watercourses should be fenced off to avoid sedimentation and faecal contamination.
TBA members can log-in on this page to download the Environmental Sustainability Guide in the resources section.
The TBA's Best Practice Environmental Management for Stud Farms guidance can be viewed in full below by TBA members who are logged in to the website only.