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Sustainable Farming Review

WildflowersLindum is a member of LEAF – Linking Environment and Farming, whose aim is to promote sustainable food and farming. In our case, our aim is to produce turf in a sustainable way and to ensure that we maintain high environmental standards and care for the countryside in which we live and work.
One of the membership benefits is the Sustainable Farming Review which provides a comprehensive health check of our farm and offers benchmarks and action plans to focus the business for the year ahead. On a cold weekend in January I decided to sit down and tackle the Review, which is in effect a self audit.

The result was a pleasant surprise. There are 100 questions and the method of completion online was straightforward. In a large farming business this could have been delegated, and I am a great believer in delegation and empowering key staff, but I felt it was important for the boss to try it out. What became evident as I worked through it was that this is a great way to thoroughly review your business at the beginning of the year, and this alone makes our involvement with LEAF so worthwhile.

As you work through, choices are given to record your level of progress and achievement, and you compile an action plan as you go on. In the key area of business management, it is good to be challenged on whether a clear business plan exists, what are your environment, health and safety and customer relation policies? How do you comply with current legislation and is your record keeping up to date?

Soil management and fertility is a subject dear to my heart, and it is good to be asked searching questions about your skills in this area. Having a nutrient management plan is important for us to correctly target inputs both when and where they are required. The section on crop health makes sure that we protect crops from weeds, pests and diseases, but in a way that ensures that control is safe and effective in order to reduce any risk of water pollution.

Pollution control, including the recycling of waste, energy efficiency and good water management are all included. The really important area of landscape and nature conservation encourages enhanced biodiversity. Knowing what species live here, and the habitats that we have, allow us to monitor progress and work at improving our environment.

This was a very good exercise to go through as it focused our minds on how we can produce our product more sustainably and profitably, and hopefully will reassure our customers that we are also striving to be responsible custodians of the environment around us.

Stephen Fell April 2015

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