English Organic Forum highlight the value of organic farming following National Trust farm report

The English Organic Forum are calling for the public benefits of organic agriculture to be better recognised by government and lawmakers.  Results from Sustain member, the National Trust’s recent ‘farm health check’ at Wimpole Farm, near Cambridge, show the exceptional benefits of a holistic organic farming approach, with high biodiversity and a healthy soil carbon balance.

Credit: Nick Upton and National Trust images

Credit: Nick Upton and National Trust images

Wimpole Estate Home Farm, which has been organic for 12 years, is the only farm directly managed by the National Trust. Between 2013 and 2019, surveys have found:

  • A 75% increase in skylarks, and habitat for at least nine rare bird species
  • Well over 1,000 invertebrate species, an increase of over a third
  • 95 rare invertebrate species with formal conservation status
  • An overall carbon balance of -2,260 tonnes per year, thanks to soil improvement, trees and hedges

The success of Wimpole Farm in supporting wildlife and combatting carbon emissions is due to a “whole farm” approach which integrates multiple techniques for habitat management and soil restoration with crop production and livestock grazing.  

National Trust director of land and nature, Mark Harold, said:

"This is a story of hope and optimism – and the Government’s forthcoming ‘environmental land management scheme’ will be crucial to replicating this across the farming industry, as will the new Agriculture Bill in prioritising government support for this scheme."

The English Organic Forum, which represents organic farming organisations and businesses, is concerned that the Agriculture Bill and government’s surrounding policy do not yet recognise the importance of organic farming and an integrated whole farm approach for delivering public goods.

EOF chairman, and Sustain trustee, Christopher Stopes said:

“We are delighted with the National Trust results. We can see that the Trust is supportive of sustainable approaches across all farming practices and the results from the farm at Wimpole clearly shows that organic fits into that very well. And their publication is timely because the whole farm system approach demonstrated so well at Wimpole has not yet been recognised in the government’s proposals.”

“Providing a menu of techniques which farmers can choose to take up has merit. However, as Wimpole Farm demonstrates, the whole farm system approach is critical and we are deeply concerned that this is being overlooked by Defra.”

John Pawsey, chair of the NFU Organic Board, commented:

“This is an exciting time for all farmers but especially for anyone considering organic farming. The National Trust has shown at Wimpole how organic farming makes commercial and environmental sense. I hope the government will take note of these impressive results and put in place a framework which allows organic farming to flourish in this country as it is has elsewhere in the world.”

 


17/06/2020
Food and Farming Policy

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