14 April 2000

LEAF audit evidence of gains for growers

GROWERS are getting better at Integrated Farm Management, according to the latest LEAF Audit results.

"In most areas of the audit we are seeing clear improvements in farming practice and management style," says Acting Project co-ordinator Jeremy Boxall.

Despite severe financial pressures, awareness of and adherence to legislation has improved and modern technology use is up among the 500 or so members returning the audit.

"This says a lot for UK farmers. They are working hard to address problem areas and setting themselves challenging, but realistic targets in their commitment to improved business and environmental performance."

The LEAF Audit, either on paper or computer disk, comes free with membership of LEAF (see panel) and can be a key step for growers to meet the environmental requirements of assurance schemes, says Mr Boxall. "I found it very useful when I was a farm manager, as it made me think about all aspects of the business and provided a benchmark against other growers completing the audit."

Completing the self-assessment process could also influence government, as the number of returns has been identified as a pilot indicator of sustainable agriculture in the UK by MAFF, he adds. &#42

LEAF audit results


1998 1999

% Respondents using:

Precision farming 33 38

Buffer zones

(inc fert & slurry) 43 59

Farm waste

management plans 33 46

LEAF membership costs (inc VAT)

Farms under 120ha £35 a year

Farms over 120ha £59 a year