27/11/2015

Clear cut no nonsense approach

by Phil Jarvis, Farm Manager, GWCT Allerton Project

This blog post originally appeared on Phil's 'Loddington Estate' blog on 26th November 2015.

Clear and simple adviceThe latest Campaign for the Farmed Environment leaflet takes such a positive approach to crop protection for arable and livestock farmers.

In an era of information proliferation, this clear cut, no nonsense approach is extremely refreshing. There is no mention of penalties or fines, but a number of constructive measures to implement. It doesn't duck out of the legal requirements that farmers have to follow. The language is robust where it needs to be, but is sensible and non confrontational.

Many growers are bombarded with literature on water protection zones, confused by agri-environment schemes, Greening and a plethora of water quality consultations. Whilst its vital to protect our ecosystems, tying growers in 'bureaucratic knotweed' can be counterproductive as you try to comprehend the messages and decipher the semantics.

The advisory leaflet was launched this week, at the East of England Showground. It was good to see it on every seat of the afternoon seminar at Crop Tec.

Launching the leafletLaunching the leaflet

Farmers do care about the environment. However, jumping through regulatory hoops or indeed getting stopped at the first entry hurdle is frustrating. So initial take up of agri-environment schemes is often slow to gather momentum. This can gives some commentators the opportunity to question farmers environmental credentials. Its not the environment farmers don't want to protect, its the process by which they have to get there that is the issue.

So if every piece of environmental legislation disappeared overnight, the CFE Literature page would give you a comprehensive guide to looking after your farm. The leaflets include succinct guidelines on nutrients, soil, wildlife, water and biodiversity habitats for both livestock and arable farmers. I recommend them whole heartedly to every farmer across the UK.

The information held within them make financial sense as well. Who wouldn't want to make better use of plant nutrition, build a healthy productive soil, encourage bees and other insects which help pollinate crops. The business case is as strong as that for the environment.

Finally, bravo to the collaboration of farming and environmental organisations that agreed on the principles for publication. Its a far better rural landscape when there's a harmonic resonance, than listen to the sound of mud slinging.

Let's hope some common sense prevails with the future direction of the Campaign For The Farmed Environment. I'm pretty sure these documents will stand my farming practices in good stead for many seasons to come and it will be a shame if others don't see the value to our industry.

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