English farmers are being urged to show how they alter the countryside.


Some 5000 farmers are being contacted by DEFRA in a bid to ascertain the amount of environmental work carried out on farms.

The postal survey is being conducted as part of the industry-led Campaign for the Farmed Environment.

It aims to establish the level of voluntary environmental management in place on farms at the beginning of the campaign.

“Information will be used to determine the level of voluntary activity already being carried out,” said campaign co-ordinator Corrina Gibbs.

Progress will then be monitored annually as the campaign seeks to encourage the uptake of additional on-farm environmental measures.

Producers are being encouraged to adopt management practices that retain the environmental benefits once provided by set-aside.

Land management practices that benefit the environment are being promoted under three key themes.

These themes seek to increase farmland bird populations, enhance farm wildlife and protect resources such as soil and water.

To be successful, the campaign must meet ambitious targets agreed between farm leaders and the government.

Over the next three years, farmers must double the area of key in-field options under entry-level stewardship to 80,000ha.

They must also retain the area of uncropped land (179,000ha) and increase the area of voluntarily managed land by 30,000ha.

If the campaign fails, the government will consider a regulatory approach.

This could see cross-compliance tightened and farmers forced to place a proportion of productive farmland under environmental management.

The baseline questionnaire, which also asks farmers whether they are aware of the campaign, is being sent to English producers with cultivated land.

Farmers have until the end of the month to respond to the survey.