The Campaign for the Farmed Environment asked what you were doing on your farm to protect wildlife and natural resources, and you didn’t disappoint. Over 370 farmers, growers and land managers responded to our online survey and 87% told us they managed their land voluntarily in 2015/16 to benefit the environment whilst farming productively.
Collectively, the farmers surveyed had nearly 10 thousand hectares under CFE voluntary measures, and have put up 17,343 m of fencing to keep stock out of watercourses, preventing bank erosion and improving water quality. The most popular measures on farms are grass buffer strips next to watercourses and ponds, fertiliser-free permanent pasture, and leaving field corners as wildlife habitat. By area, winter cover crops and over-wintered stubbles are the most common. Together, these measures reduce soil erosion, prevent pollution and benefit wildlife, and can also improve soil quality and help manage awkward, unproductive areas.
When making decisions about their farm, 90% of farmers thought that protecting soil and water and using inputs efficiently were very important. 99% stated that protecting wildlife was either very or fairly important.
The most popular voluntary measure, a grass buffer strip protecting the watercourse.
Around a third of those who responded said CFE had led them to implement new voluntary measures or change how they managed their land, signalling the value of CFE’s guidance and events.
About half said they had some of understanding of what CFE is about, and a further third said they had a good understanding. Just to be clear, we're an industry-led partnership encouraging farmers and land managers to adopt voluntary measures that improve the environmental value of agricultural habitats and landscapes, alongside profitable farming.
Generally, arable farmers said they had a better understanding than livestock or mixed farmers. This partly reflects the fact that CFE has been established in arable areas longer than in mostly livestock or mixed areas, but also that we have more work to do.
You also told us that CFE leaflets and coverage in the farming press were most useful resources. We’ll be looking at how to better use our social media, and will be soon refreshing our website to make it easier to find the information you want.
We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who responded to the survey, and helped us demonstrate the great deal that farmers do for the environment. Our survey only captures a small amount of this work, but it sends out a very positive message. Over the summer, we’ll be working on case studies to help make this message even clearer.