A DORSET beef farmer has been among the first to try out a new business tool to save money and reduce farming’s carbon footprint.

Andrew Foot was invited to trial the digital ‘What If’ tool to help him identify savings that could be made.

The assessment showed that by increasing silage quality and feed intake, live weight gains of the cattle could be improved.

The tool suggested this could be done by monitoring the grass growth and soil indices and efficiently targeting the use of nutrient inputs.

This could save up to £9,917 and reduce the farm’s carbon footprint by around one per cent.

Mr Foot said: “Monitoring business performance on the farm is incredibly important and I’m always looking to learn from other sectors and use technology to increase my farm’s efficiency.

“The ‘What If?’ tool demonstrates that by making small changes to animal groups this can really make a big difference to overall performance.”

The tool was produced by independent environmental consultants E-CO2 on behalf of McDonald’s.

Andrew Foot is a progressive dairy beef farmer, currently farms 254 hectares, of which 227 hectares is dedicated to the beef enterprise. This beef enterprise is mainly focused on a dairy beef system, finishing animals around 18 to 20 months of age with some animals reaching target weights at around 15 months.

The business is focused on supplying cattle to the right market for the business.

As a progressive farmer, Andrew believes that monitoring and evaluating the performance of his enterprise is paramount. His animals are weighed regularly in order to maximise feed conversion efficiency; water and electricity use are carefully measured; forage quality is analysed and feed plans are regularly adjusted. This year, he is also investing in electronic identification which will allow him to analyse weighing data more easily and interpret the results more effectively.

Through the use of electronic identification, Andrew plans to better manage the animal groups based on the genetic potential of the cattle. It is hoped that over time this will further increase the efficiency of the enterprise.