Many farmers are taking steps to reduce their environmental impact, but more advice is needed to drive big change and ease worry among producers, according to a Mole Valley Farmers’ survey.
Nearly 400 farmers took part in the survey, which was designed to gauge farmer attitudes to changes in environmental policy and identify ways in which Mole Valley Farmers can support producers in the future.
Ninety percent of respondents expressed concerns about how they would be paid for environmental management. And the level of worry was significantly higher among those who had signed up to the Government’s pilot schemes.
Despite these concerns, 35% had not started doing anything to lower their environmental impact and just 18% understood their farm’s carbon footprint.
Katie Ackland, Environmental Projects Coordinator for Mole Valley Farmers, said: “The number of people who are working to understand or improve their carbon footprint is quite low. It just shows there needs to be greater clarity on what needs to be done and more incentive to act.”
Just 11% had been asked by their buyer to lower their carbon footprint (CFP). The majority of those were dairy producers (93%) and more than half were Arla suppliers. This corresponds with Arla’s recent requirement for its suppliers to undertake a Climate Check to help reduce the processor’s overall carbon footprint.
Selecting more sustainable feed was one of the areas buyers were asking their producers to address - something Mole Valley Farmers can help with.
Miss Ackland added: “A large proportion of farmers wanted to reduce the environmental impact of their animals diets by improving forage quality and looking at switching from feeds with a high carbon footprint were seen as the most important ways to do that.”
This meant moving away from feeds like soya and palm, associated with deforestation, and improving home-grown forage quality by thinking about things like cut timing, using an appropriate silage additive and targeted reseeding.
Miss Ackland said the 28% of respondents working to improve environmental management were making great strides by doing things like planting hedgerows, using solar panels and reducing fertiliser use.
“Thinking about where bought-in nitrogen is sourced is a key consideration for the new Environmental Land Management (ELMS) scheme. It’s vital all farmers look at ways to use slurry and organic manure to reduce reliance on bagged fertiliser,” said Miss Ackland.
“With that in mind, slurry testing is an increasingly important tool so farmers can understand exactly what they’ve got on farm and balance it with bought-in fertiliser. That said, 23% of farmers said they were not looking to slurry test in the future. Against this backdrop and current high fertiliser prices, farmers will need to embrace these tools moving forward.”
Environmental management concerns - let us help you!
We take our role seriously in reducing our own carbon footprint and helping farmers to do the same. As part of our Climate Positive Agriculture initiative:
- We understand the carbon footprint of every feed ingredient delivered to our mills
- We declare the carbon footprint on the label of all conventional dairy compounds and blends produced by Mole Valley Feed Solutions so farmers can make informed buying decisions
- The business produces specifically formulated compound feeds without soya or palm
- We incorporate more home-produced feeds, such as beans and rape into our compounds and blends
- We can determine the carbon footprint, nitrogen and methane impact of different diets using our Precision Nutrition rationing program