More farmers adopting sustainable farming practices reveals new report from LEAF
Our second global impacts report 'LEAF – inspiring and enabling sustainable farming'. A review of our global impacts 2014’ shows there has been a significant increase in the number of farms across the globe achieving LEAF Marque certification and in the amount of land grown to its standards. The amount of land across the globe growing LEAF Marque crops has increased by 31 per cent in the past 12 months to 247,053 hectares. This includes 186,989 hectares in the UK. The number of LEAF Marque certified producers has also increased by 6.6 per cent from 896 to 955. The majority of LEAF Marque farmers are working within the cereals sector (59 per cent) followed by horticulture (33 per cent).
As part of the report, LEAF has developed a new set of sustainability indicators to help assess what impact IFM is having on the sustainability of its LEAF farmer members. This covers all aspects of the farm such as soil management, energy and water efficiency, crop protection, animal husbandry and community engagement.
In the past 12 months, the indicators show that there has been an increase of 46 per cent in the hectares of crop where beneficial wildlife is protected and supported, and a 36 per cent increase in hectares of crop under a Crop Protection Policy. There has also been an increase of 49 per cent in the hectares of crop where nitrogen efficiency per tonne product is measured and similar gains shown for farmers measuring their water and energy efficiency, both up by 41%.
Read the full report here Read the full press release here.
LEAF Chief Executive, Caroline Drummond awarded Honorary Fellowship of the Society for the Environment
Caroline Drummond MBE, Chief Executive of LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) was among five new Honorary Fellows to be presented by the Society for the Environment (SocEnv) yesterday, during a reception at the House of Lords. Caroline received her Fellowship in recognition of the contribution she has made, through her work with LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming), to encourage best practice environmental stewardship amongst farmers and deliver more sustainable food and farming.
The Society for the Environment is a leading independent, non-political umbrella organisation for environmental and sustainability professionals. Also honoured were Angela Brady, Director of Brady Mallalieu Architects Ltd; Professor Raymond Clark OBE, Chief Executive of the Society of Environmental Engineers; Polly Higgins, author, barrister and environmental lawyer and Judy Ling Wong CBE OBE, Honorary President of Black Environment Network.
Read the full press release here.
Eden Foodservice joins LEAF and achieves Food for Life Silver
Eden Foodservice, which provides catering services for 400 schools, has joined sustainable food and farming organisation LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming). Sourcing LEAF Marque produce has helped it to become the first catering company to achieve the Silver Food for Life Catering Mark for its 353 primary schools from the Food for Life Partnership.
The LEAF Marque is a leading environmental food label based on LEAF's Integrated Farm Management (IFM) principles. IFM uses the best of modern technology and traditional methods to deliver prosperous farming that enriches the environment and engages local communities. It covers energy and resource use, soil and water management and creating natural habitats for the benefit of plants and wildlife.
Visit www.leafmarque.com for more information.
Read the full press release here.
Specialist farming business leads the way in sustainability
Barton Hill Farm, in Bedfordshire, has become the latest farming business to be recognised for its commitment to sustainable farming by LEAF.
The farm produces wheat and oilseed rape for its own artisan oil and flour brand, Mrs Middleton’s. Mrs Middleton’s flour will now carry the LEAF Marque on pack, shortly to be followed by its cold pressed rapeseed oil later this summer.
Download the full press release here.
Great habitats, more flowers, better protection - LEAF's guide to pollinating insects for farmers
Our new guide to pollinating insects for farmers is now available to download for LEAF members. The new guide sets out some practical and cost effective ways for farmers to increase the number of pollinating insects on their land. This could be through minimising the use of pesticides, providing food sources and habitats, hosting bee hives and, where possible, accommodating wasp nests. We hope it will inspire farmers to take action on the ground and help them recognise the crucial role they play in helping to reverse the decline of these precious insects.
The interactions between pollinators and agriculture are extremely complex and have generated considerable recent research interest. This has been stimulated by increasing recognition of the importance of insect pollination in maintaining yields of some crops, coupled with evidence that many species of pollinating insects have declined substantially.
Agriculture, horticulture and farm management practices can have a huge influence on the number and behaviour of pollinator species over wide areas. In particular, through the adoption of Integrated Farm Management, it is possible to support and value a healthy population of pollinators alongside the production of safe, quality and responsibly produced food.
LEAF members can download 'Great habitats, more flowers, better protection - LEAF's guide to pollinating insects for farmers', for free from the Information Centre on myLEAF here.
If you're not a LEAF member you can join online to get access to all of our membership services - for more information on LEAF membership and to join online
Big Farmland Bird Count - the results are in!
The first ever Big Farmland Bird Count took place between the 1st and 7th February this year. Despite some truly horrible weather across most of the UK, loads of farmers downloaded their recording sheets and got counting on their farms. We are proud to support such vital monitoring work across the UK.
Much of the good work done by farmers to help reverse farmland bird decline goes unrecorded. We want to remedy that and help farmers record the effect of any conservation schemes currently being initiated on their land such as supplementary feeding or growing wild bird seed crops and game cover crops.
This year, over 500 farmers took part in the count and over 90 of you were LEAF Marque certified. The results were announced on Countryfile on the 13th April and are available to download here.
116 different species were recorded with 11 red list species recorded. Six of those red-listed species, linnet, yellowhammer, hedge sparrow, tree sparrow, starling and lapwing appeared in the top 25 of birds counted.
If the count has inspired you, perhaps you would like to use LEAF’s Green Box to monitor wildlife populations on your farm. The Green Box also features monitoring tools for soil, water and air quality.
The Green Box is free to access for LEAF members, simply log in to myLEAF at www.leafuk.org/myLEAF
Save the dates for next year’s Big Farmland Bird Count - 7th and 15th February 2015.
What's your biggest soil management challenge?
LEAF is launching the first issue of it's new service, LEAF’s Integrated Farm Management Bulletin. The first issue of the new email bulletin service is being issued to all LEAF's members on Friday 7th March and focusses on sustainable soil management. So we’re asking what you think will be the biggest challenge to your soil over the coming year. Please answer the poll below, and it will be followed up on our blog later in the year. The Integrated Farm Management Bulletin is a benefit of LEAF membership, for full details click here.
LEAF urges farmers to consider opportunities presented by wet weather
Following recent severe wet weather, which has left hundreds of acres of farmland covered by floodwater, LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) is urging farmers to take a longer term view and consider some practical steps they can be taking now, to ensure more sustainable water management going forward.
Simple steps to assess water drainage on your farm:
- Walk the fields and waterways (where possible) in extreme conditions as some issues only show up during extreme weather
- Maintain existing drains to ensure they are free flowing and outflows into ditches are not blocked
- Manage drainage ditch clearance to ensure optimum water quality levels and to encourage wildlife, in co-operation with neighbours and in line with stewardship agreements
- Consider establishing field scrapes or reed beds
- Monitor water quality at field drain outlets
- Develop field drainage maps and keep them up to date with any changes, such as new drains or outlets
- Avoid draining environmentally valuable wetland areas and meadows. Wet woodland, wet grassland and wet meadows are very valuable habitats, rich in biodiversity.
LEAF conference highlights the economic benefits of sustainable farming
Experts from across the food and farming sector have urged farmers to realise the economic benefits that sustainable farming delivers.
Speakers at LEAF’s annual President’s Event on 5th November entitled “Sustainable Agriculture: Show me the money”, highlighted the multiple ways in which farmers can maximise the three pillars of sustainability - economic performance , environmental quality and social health - to drive their businesses forward.
Key note speaker Gregor Henderson, Public Health England challenged farmers to realise the full potential of their assets and the social return on investment. He explained that farmers are key players in the promotion of health and wellbeing through farm visits, open days and community engagement. He demonstrated that this approach can deliver benefits for farmers and the wider community.
10,421 Farming Biggest Job on Earth t-shirts given away by BASF
The word is spreading and so are the t-shirts. Since BASF launched its Farming: The Biggest Job on Earth campaign, the company has given away 10,421 t-shirts and anticipate that a further 20,000 will be requested over the coming months.
Commending the campaign, LEAF's Chief Executive, Caroline Drummond said: "LEAF is really proud to support the Farming: The Biggest Job on Earth campaign. By collaborating with others, we can all help raise awareness of what farmers are doing to meet the global challenges of sustainable food production. We can work to develop practical solutions which will enable farmers to make the changes on the ground that are required. Together, we can work towards a more sustainable farming system – for the benefit of all."
Download the press release here.
LEAF member crowned the most nature-friendly farmer
After weeks of public voting and a nervous wait for the finalists, LEAF Member, Nicholas Watts has been crowned this year’s winner of the RSPB’s Nature of Farming Awards.
The awards recognise the extra mile that farmers like Nicholas go to to give nature a home on their farms. The competition was tougher than ever this year, with the number of UK finalists increasing from four to eight. Nicholas entered the competition in order to show that producing food and protecting nature can go hand in hand.
Nicholas, who has been a LEAF member since 1995, farms Vine House Farm, a 2000 acre arable farm in the Lincolnshire Fenlands, together with his son in law Robert and daughter, Lucy. It is a perfect example of how a large, commercially successful farm can support a diverse range of birds and wildlife. He grows a wide range of crops including wheat, potatoes, sugar beet and vegetables as well as a range of seed crops for the farm’s wild bird feed enterprise, including many acres of sunflowers. The farm also has its own farm shop supplying home-grown and locally produced food as well as its own bird feed mixes. He also farms 300 acres of land organically, primarily with wildlife in mind. You can find out more about the business here.
Since 1982, Nicholas has kept detailed records of the wildlife on the farm, tracking positive and negative changes. Based on this, he tailors his farming practices to achieve the best possible habitats for wildlife including insect-rich meadows and nectar flower mixtures, arable plants flourishing in cultivated strips and seed rich habitats for sacrificial cereals crops for birds. As a result of his efforts, his farm attracts numerous seed-eating species like tree sparrows, skylarks, corn buntings, chaffinches, greenfinches, linnets and yellowhammers.
Speaking on the award, Nicholas said:
“It was in 1982 when I started recording the breeding birds on the farm but I didn’t realise just how fast they were declining until 1992, and this really worried me. I love farming and I love wildlife especially the birds so I just had to start reversing the decline on my farm. It was about this time when LEAF started so I joined without delay.”
Across the UK more than 13,000 people cast their votes in this year’s RSPB Nature of Farming competition. The public were clearly inspired by the work Nicholas does on his farm to combine profitable farming with environmental care. Also amongst the finalists, was LEAF member, Richard Bramley from Manor Farm in Kelfield, Yorkshire. Congratulations to Nicholas, Richard and all the finalists!
Click here for more on all the finalists.
M&S demonstrates sustainability credentials with its fresh pork
All fresh Outdoor Bred pork sold by Marks & Spencer is now LEAF Marque certified, demonstrating that it has been produced sustainably.
The fresh pork sold through the retailer is produced by family farming business, Mercer Farming which achieved LEAF Marque certification last month. The LEAF Marque is an assurance system which recognises sustainably farmed products. It is based on LEAF’s Integrated Farm Management (IFM) principles, which use the best of modern technology and traditional methods to deliver prosperous farming that enriches the environment and engages local communities.
Like all LEAF Marque certified farms, Mercer Farming was independently inspected to ensure it met the stringent sustainability criteria. Integrated Farm Management has always been important for the Staffordshire based farming company; some examples of how this is implemented on the farm include the use of manure from pig units as a natural fertiliser and using their own straw for the pigs to use as bedding.
Click here to download the full press release.
World Water Week
1st - 6th September 2013
Throughout this year's World Water Week we will be raising awareness of the importance of good water management in agriculture. As one of the nine sections of Integrated Farm Management, water management is a key part of farming sustainably. For farmers and the food industry, LEAF is here to help.
On our World Water Week page you can find quick links to our resources for farmers and landowners, videos, links to various blog posts and articles, global water statistics and all the tweets from #wwweek.
Click here to see more.
LEAF welcomes new Government Agri-Tech Strategy
Agricultural knowledge, science and technology will be crucial in addressing the challenges of moving to more sustainable food production systems. LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) therefore welcomes the new Government Agri-tech Strategy, launched Monday 22nd July.
A £160 million investment into new technologies to help farmers deliver sustainable, healthy and affordable food is certainly very positive. However, in order to meet the stated objectives of the strategy, it is essential that we take an integrated approach to science, policy and practice. The challenge will be to bridge the gaps between farmers, industry, academics in delivering independent and transparent advice which supports knowledge exchange between researchers and farmers, but with commercial interests also served.
Read the full statement here.
LEAF receives global recognition from ISEAL
LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) has been accepted as an associate member of the ISEAL Alliance, the global membership association for sustainability standards. Becoming an associate member of ISEAL recognises that LEAF is committed to embracing credible practices, such as transparency and accountability, and improving with like-minded peers in its efforts to deliver sustainable farming on a global scale through the LEAF Marque assurance scheme.
Associate membership is an important step to gaining full membership in ISEAL and indicates that LEAF is on a path to demonstrating full compliance with ISEAL's stringent Codes of Good Practice within a set time frame. ISEAL's Codes of Good Practice are a global reference for developing credible sustainability standards covering the standard-setting and design process, monitoring and evaluation and the implementation of the assurance process. Compliance ensures that standards strive for continuous improvement and use credible and effective systems that are more likely to deliver positive social and environmental impacts.
Download the full press release here or find out more about ISEAL here.
Record Numbers Attend Open Farm Sunday 2013
Right across the country farmers have reported record attendance for Open Farm Sunday 2013. Feedback from farms indicates that, in many cases, visitor numbers were up by between 10-20% on last year, leading organisers’ LEAF, (Linking Environment And Farming) to estimate that over 200,000 people visited one of the 365 farms that opened.
With sunshine bathing most of Britain, the increase in visitor numbers was seen in farms from Cornwall to Northumberland and Scotland to Essex. Conversations on social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, had already reached new levels before the weekend, and on Open Farm Sunday itself, the channels were literally buzzing with fantastic feedback from visitors about their day on a farm – as well, of course, appreciation for all the work farmers and their helpers had put into their events.
Read the full press release here.
Social media bridging the gap between farmers and consumers
- Eight in ten farmers now active on social media
- Three quarters of farmers claim the internet has brought them and consumers closer together
- Seven in ten farmers say they have seen an increase in consumers’ interest in farming over the past 12 months
- Six in ten farmers have increased the time spent on social media over the past year
- Nearly half of farmers say people are surprised to find them online
- Most popular platforms are: Facebook (70%); Twitter (45%) and LinkedIn (24%)
As part of their drive to connect with the public, more and more farmers are turning to the internet and with great success. Three quarters of farmers surveyed believe the web has helped them get closer to consumers and many now use Twitter and Facebook to connect with the public, as well as their own websites and blogs.
Read the full press release here.
New Tried & Tested Guide - 'Feed Planning for Cattle and Sheep'
A feed plan for your cattle or sheep can make your farm run more sustainably. There is potential for cost savings and greater profitability at the same time as improving the environment through reducing nutrient losses to the atmosphere and water. The feed planning approach can help bring things together on the farm, linking the environment with the health of your cattle and the profitability of your farm.
An innovative new Tried & Tested guide, 'Feed Planning for Cattle and Sheep', has been launched to help boost farm profitability, reduce nutrient waste and environmental impact. See the principles in action with LEAF member, Stephen Hobbs, below. Click here for more information and to download the guide.