Why ‘farm for nature’?
Nature on the farm is the entire suite of natural resources including soil, water, plants and animals that comprise the farming landscape. Farmers manage these resources and interact with nature on a daily basis to produce food. In a modern agriculture and land management context farmers are asked to do more than just produce food but to manage nature to produce a range of other services that society needs including climate and water regulation services, space for nature and provide aesthetic landscapes. To provide this range of services Farming for Nature seeks to demonstrate and support farming which protects and enhances nature on the farm.
Reasons for including nature in farming decisions:
- Enhance production: having lots of earthworms and microbes in your soil improves soil structure, which leads to naturally higher yields
- Reduce costs: natural nitrogen fixers, such as clovers in grassland and beans or peas in a tillage rotation, can reduce the need for applying costly fertilisers.
- Reduce pest outbreaks: diverse crop rotations, native wildflower strips for predatory insects, and dense hedgerows for birds can help naturally control insect populations and reduce pest outbreaks.
- Improve animal welfare: healthy hedgerows can decrease the risk of airborne diseases and provide shelter and shade for livestock – increasingly important as summer droughts and winter storms increase in intensity.
- Increase climate resilience: well-managed watercourses can improve water quality and reduce the potential for flood damage, while multi-species swards and diverse cropping can help reduce the impacts of drought on grass and crop yields.
- Open potential income streams: agri-environment schemes are increasingly rewarding farmers who deliver more for nature and the climate.
- Provide a better working environment: A farm full of biodiversity can increase the wellbeing of the farm family and their surrounding community.
- Provide a legacy: making space for nature will enable you to create cleaner water, more productive soils and a more sustainable environment for people, plants, livestock and wildlife.
Whilst farming’s main role is to produce food, it can also
- Make space for key habitats for our native flora and fauna to breed and feed, delivering healthy ecosystems and enhanced biodiversity.
- Work towards providing cleaner water and healthier soils that benefit all of us.
- Work towards capturing carbon in farmland soils, peatlands and woodlands to aid climate crisis.
Printable version here.
We have a included a list of research papers to back up the comments above. Please view here.
Do you have any suggestions to add to the above, then please do not hesitate to email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Want some quick ideas on where to start improving nature on your farm? Go here
Quick guides on how to do by land type go here
Looking for more links, videos, podcasts and resources? Go here
The development of this section has been supported by the National Parks and Wildlife Service
and the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine