Businesses such as airlines could seek to pay farmers to plant trees and hedges in a bid to cancel out carbon emissions, a farming union leader has suggested, writes Helen William.

NFU president Minette Batters said "there is clearly a growing demand" from various industries to invest in the agricultural sector to offset the emissions resulting from their practices.

This could see trees planted or hedgerows widened as a way of capturing carbon dioxide and tackling climate change.

Ms Batters told a central London livestock and climate change seminar that she has heard of an airline - which she did not name but described as "not huge" - which might be interested in such a project.

Ms Batters said: "There will be a need if they are going to be offsetting to invest in farming, potentially, in order to offset those costs."

She described 75 per cent of the UK as "a farmed landscape" which could help to offer a solution in tackling levels of emissions.

Read more: Growing, not planting, trees is key says Royal Forestry Society

But Leicestershire livestock farmer Joe Stanley issued a word of warning.

He told the PA news agency: "For your individual farmer, if someone is going to come up to you and say 'we are going to give you this amount of money to offset emissions' then it is up to the individual farmer.

"But the big question there is that it has to be an ongoing and sustainable investment from that company.

"The farmer cannot have an upfront payment and then nothing because they would have no livelihood in the future."

He recalled that his farm planted a lot of trees for a re-foresting project in the Midlands in the mid-1990s.

He said: "There was an initial payment but after that your land was worth half what it was if it was left as just farmland and there was no ongoing payment."

He added that if a farmer alters the use of their land in a way which means they can no longer farm it, they will be left "in an incredibly poor financial situation".

He also suggested that other ways to mitigate emissions could be discovered in the future which could leave the agricultural sector "with a big problem" if businesses "suddenly get bored" with the tree-planting option.