Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Better soil among top priorities for farmers

March 5, 2019 by  
Filed under Crops

Improving soil health is among the top priorities for farmers, suggests the latest Farm Forward Barometer survey conducted by the National Farm Research Unit.

An overwhelming 98% of farmers have measures in place to improve the environment, it found.  environmental improvements on their farms. Priorities are improving soil management (84%), preserving the countryside (84%) and better water management (70%).

Commissioned by McDonald’s UK, the research found that farmers are first and foremost driven by a sense of personal responsibility. More than half (53%) said they believed improving environmental standards is the right thing to do.

In comparison, 31% said they were responding to increased customer demand for sustainably sourced products. Only 7% said moves to link subsidies to environmental improvements were among the main reasons they think change is important.

Elveden Farm Estate farm manager Andrew Francis, who supplies potatoes to McDonald’s UK, explained: “I strongly believe we should grow food responsibly and consider how to make environmental improvements.

“We take action to preserve habitats for rare species by managing field corners and headlands to enhance habitat, and monitor inputs like fertiliser to produce our crop as efficiently as possible. As an industry, we need to take a cross sector approach to evaluate our impact and address concerns together.”

Some 94% of farmers said they were keeping tabs on soil testing equipment like moisture and organic matter sensors to help with soil health. Meanwhile, 87% were interested in satellite technology and 78% in self-driving tractors to apply nutrients more accurately.

McDonald’s UK agriculture manager Pete Garbutt  said: “This research shows the huge strides farmers are making to protect the world around us. They believe that good food can also be sustainable and are committed to making this a reality.