How farmers conserve the UK’s countryside

Farmers have long been considered custodians of the countryside. To continue this, farmers need to receive support for the time and effort they put into maintaining and improving the UK’s landscape; they’re already working in a highly pressured industry. Agroforestry — a land-use farming system that combines trees or shrubs with agricultural crops or livestock makes countryside conservation more effective. Governmental schemes provide financial support for this, whilst agri-tech companies such as Glas Data aim to help farmers and increase results.

UK farmers go over and above to care for the countryside, and many do this without reward. Whether it’s providing supplementary feed for birds, establishing grass buffers to protect watercourses, or sowing flower-rich mixes to support pollinators, farmers take the landscape’s health in hand.

NFU deputy president Guy Smith said, “The NFU welcomes the recognition that many farmers balance food production with care for wildlife and protecting soils and water.” And this is one of the aspects of farmers’ labour that makes UK agriculture globally respected.

The UK has been named one of the world’s green farming pioneers, and Agri-Environment Schemes (AES) have helped to create this status. They support farmers and encourage them to make their land a source of food, but also make agriculture more sustainable.

Through AES, farmers maintain production within their business whilst safeguarding the countryside. In doing so, it continues to make land fit for use for future generations.

Agri-tech companies such as Glas Data look to a better future for farming as a way to create solutions now. Their decision support dashboard, GlasCore, provides key insights to enhance farm management, by accelerating farmers’ productivity in multiple areas of their business. Tackling issues such as carbon capture are made easier through GlasCore, because it’s easy to track farming assets, such as woodlands and their carbon storage.

The Woodland Carbon Guarantee (WCaG) is a scheme launched by Defra; it’s an objective in the 25 Year Environment Plan and was announced in the autumn 2018 budget. It highlights trees’ valuable ability to capture and store carbon from the atmosphere and puts it to good use.

The £50 million scheme aims to accrue woodland planting rates and develop the domestic market for woodland carbon to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

WCaG allows farmers and landowners to sell their captured CO2 in the form of verified carbon credits. Carbon credits can be exchanged every 5 or 10 years up to 2055/56, which provides farmers and landowners with additional long-term income from their woodlands.

The WCaG encourages more tree planting to tackle climate change and protect the UK’s landscapes. Glas Data is driven to support farmers with precision farming, to increase productivity, profits and initiate a more sustainable industry.

The government’s adviser for the natural environment in England, Natural England, supports farmers and landowners. They provide the opportunity for farm businesses to steer away from short term market-driven decisions towards a long term sustainable natural capital approach to farming.

They believe that in order to achieve the ambitions of the 25 YEP a move to a market-based approach is required. Public money for public goods subsidy systems make farm support more effective by linking environmental outcomes to payments.