Nature can benefit from farm data revolution

NFU president Minette Batters.
NFU president Minette Batters.
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The contribution of farming to the protection of the environment needs to be far better understood if British agriculture is deliver more for the natural world, according to a new report published today.

A vastly superior “data-based approach” is needed to underpin future agricultural and environmental policy-making, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) said.

This new approach can ensure that environmental successes are recognised and can be used to identify where more can be done on farms to enhance nature.

Speaking ahead of a conference hosted by the NFU today, union president Minette Batters said: “Farmers want to play our part in rising to the Government’s wider challenge to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better condition than we found it.

“In order to do that, we need a balanced and honest appraisal of the current state of the farmed environment.”

Politicians, civil servants, campaigners and industry representatives will join farmers at today’s conference to discuss the importance of a farmed environment working in harmony with productive food and farming businesses.

Making the case for better data to benchmark farming’s environmental performance, Ms Batters added: “Without accurate or comprehensive data we will be permanently reliant on anecdotal or cherry-picked evidence which does not show the full picture.

“For example, during last year’s Big Farmland Bird Count, 121 different species of birds were recorded on farm – far more than are found on the Government’s official farmland bird index.”