This summer, 42 progressive arable farms are embarking on a new model for sustainable farming and will maintain nature-friendly corridors on farmland which, if placed end to end, would reach from Land’s End to John O’Groats - as part of a new partnership to enhance the natural environment and support farming communities.[i]
The new and unique collaboration - involving The Wildlife Trusts, Linking Environment And Farming (LEAF) and Jordans - will promote sustainable farming practice - and address rural development issues through The Prince’s Countryside Fund. Known as the Jordans Farm Partnership, it will create a new model for UK farm sustainability and set high standards for nature-friendly farming.
Five farms are currently piloting the scheme and, from this summer, all 42 farms which supply grain to breakfast cereal brand Jordans, will undertake a wide variety of measures to protect water and soil, building on their longstanding commitment to support wildlife on at least 10% of their land. Together, the farms in the Partnership manage over 44,500 acres of land. Ten percent of this area will continue to be managed to provide food for farmland birds, pollen and nectar for bees, butterflies and pollinating insects; sustaining landscape-scale wildlife corridors with dedicated habitats, such as ponds and hedgerow highways, for species of significance in the local area.
The Jordans Farm Partnership has been set up to address key issues facing rural communities today, including 1) the decline in priority wildlife species of almost 67% since 1970, with significant reductions in insects and farmland birds[ii]; 2) the requirement to produce more food to feed a growing population, balanced with 3) an equally important need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with agricultural output; and 4) to provide support for rural communities, many of which are struggling from social and economic changes (800 rural shops closing a year and the average age of a UK farmer increasing to 59 in 2013[iii]).
All the farms in the Partnership are in the process of becoming LEAF Marque certified, which advocates optimisation of inputs; energy and waste management, and practices on farm to protect and enhance biodiversity, soil and water. Underpinning LEAF Marque certification are the nine principles of Integrated Farm Management, recognised as best practice for environmental farm management. Jordans will also fund field trials and share best practice agronomy with its farmers, while providing incentives for yield and productivity improvement.
Once all 42 farms have achieved LEAF Marque certification, they will be supported to meet a new bespoke farm wildlife standard developed by The Wildlife Trusts, across at least 10% of their land; half of which will be managed specifically for pollinators and wild birds through the Countryside Stewardship Wild Pollinator and Farm Wildlife Package to provide year round habitat for wildlife (food, nest sites and shelter.) Farmers will receive support at all stages, including visits from their local Wildlife Trust Farm Advisor to help them develop and implement their farm environment plan. They will receive financial support from Jordans, and help from their local Wildlife Trust Farm Advisor to assist with securing Government funding as part of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme.
Through the Partnership, Jordans will also develop its longstanding relationship with The Prince’s Countryside Fund, a charity which seeks to secure a brighter future for the British countryside and the people that live and work in our rural communities. Founded in 2010 by HRH The Prince of Wales The Prince’s Countryside Fund has invested over £6.7m supporting over 210,000 people in rural areas across the UK, including support for many young people who want to enter farming as a career by creating access to training and apprenticeship opportunities. Jordans contributes to The Prince’s Countryside Fund and will continue to work through them to address rural development issues as part of the Partnership.
[i] Total land area 44,500 acres (181 KM2) 10% of which (4,450 acres) will be managed for wildlife and 5% (2,225 acres) will be managed specifically for pollinators and wild birds under the Countryside Stewardship ‘Wild Pollinator and Farm Wildlife’ package. The area covered by 2,225 acres equates to 9,004,255m2 or 1,500 kilometres of 6m wide habitat. The distance between Lands’ End and John O’Groats is 970Km. For details of the size of urban areas in the UK in Km2 see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_urban_areas_in_the_United_Kingdom
[iii] Source: DEFRA, AGRICULTURE IN THE UNITED KINGDOM 2013 page 8