Agronomists and farm advisers have given their overwhelming support to the industry-led Campaign for the Farmed Environment.
Around 70 agronomists attended the first two briefing sessions about the campaign, which aims to stave off the threat of a compulsory set-aside replacement in England by encouraging farmers to adopt voluntary environmental measures.
Hosted by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust and the RSPB, many attendees were members of the Association of Independent Crop Consultants, one of the 12 delivery partners for the campaign.
Farmers are being asked to join Entry Level Stewardship (ELS), undertake voluntary measures and maintain uncropped land. The support of agronomists is seen as vital as 75% of ELS applications are written by advisers rather than farmers directly.
Campaign targets are tough. Key in-field options under ELS, for example, must be increased by 40,000ha within three years. If not, the government will consider introducing rules forcing farmers to implement environmental measures.
Asked to give feedback on the events, 97% of delegates signed up to the campaign’s aims, saying they would encourage farmers to participate. Some 90% said they would recommend the briefing sessions to others.
The events were held at the Allerton Project, Loddington and at Hope Farm, Cambridgeshire. Both were fully subscribed shortly after they were promoted and a further 50 interested individuals are on a waiting list for future events.
Campaign co-ordinator Corrina Gibbs said: “We are really pleased with the positive feedback from these events – agronomists and advisers play a key role in encouraging farmers and land managers to take part in the campaign.”