Farm with nature

Farm to fork

Be part of the solution

Too often, increasing agricultural production has been to the detriment of the environment in terms of biodiversity, soil health, air and water quality. Farmers are responsible for more than 70% of land across the UK, demonstrating the key role that farms play not only in our food production but also in reversing our wildlife declines and reducing carbon emissions.

While keeping a close eye on productivity and national competitiveness, nature-friendly farming is increasingly seen by the farming community as critical in building a secure, sustainable food system.

For example, low levels of fertiliser can produce high crop yields if supplemented by practices that support farmland ecosystems – such as growing a greater range of crops; growing plants such as beans or clover that enhance soil fertility; and adding organic matter in the form of manure, compost, or cuttings. Adopting some or all of these approaches could reduce fertiliser use, helping to buffer farmers against spiralling fertiliser costs and consumers against the resulting increase in food prices.

Whitehall Farm in Cambridgeshire practices ‘agroforestry’, a different nature-based farming approach, that involves deliberately planting productive trees in strips among arable crops. This practice delivers a multitude of benefits for both the farm and nature. Foremost, it enhances farm productivity. But it also improves soil health and water flow, supports more wildlife and contributes to climate change mitigation. Designed properly, agroforestry avoids the potential trade-offs in many modern farming systems between food production and ‘public goods’ such as clean air. But agroforestry has yet to realise its full potential with only 3% of UK farmed area currently taking this innovative land management approach.

From an economic point of view, there can also be benefits from managing field margins and corners for wildlife. Making use of less productive parts of a field by maintaining a network of grassland or wildflower margins provides an essential habitat for welcome pollinators and insects which feed on crop pests, as well as offering connectivity across the landscape for wildlife to move through it.

Are you a member of the farming community and keen to farm your land in the most sustainable and efficient way possible? You could become part of the solution and help nature-friendly farming become mainstream.