Lifelines and Farming

The participation of both organic and conventional farmers in the Lifelines project will be critically important to its success. Farmers who want to support this initiative can join the scheme by including just part of their land, such as specific fields, field margins, hedges or woods. These could be particularly important in creating wildlife corridors.  Joining is easy, just drop us an email with your details and we will get in touch to discuss which areas might be suitable to put on the Lifelines the map.

We hope non-organic farmers will support the project and recognise the benefits to their business of having more biodiversity in the environment.  It is well-known that high numbers of insects and bird in the margins of fields, reduces the impact of insect pests on crops and hence the need for expensive insecticides. Biodiversity can help farmers reduce damage from pests and can also help them in other battles too, like the urgent need to have more climate-resilient soils - less prone to flooding, erosion and drought.  Farmers are on the frontline in the battle against climate change, having to cope with extreme weather events, such as record-breaking rainfall followed by record breaking droughts.  As these extreme weather events are projected to become more frequent and more intense in the coming decades, farming is also going to become much harder and will need to adapt.  Flooding and soil erosion are already getting much worse, and poor farming practices are often blamed for aggravating matters. 

Looking at changes to the Char Valley in the last few decades, it’s clear that criticism should not be levelled at farmers, but rather aimed at the misguided Common Agricultural Policy that has resulted in the current impoverished state of our environment, wildlife and soils. Fortunately, the CAP has now been replaced by the new Agriculture Bill 2020 that is currently under discussion, putting in place the framework that will hopefully align the interests of farmers with those of nature – allowing production that is truly environmentally sustainable, through what is called agroecology.  From now on, public payments received by farmers will no longer be calculated based on their acreage and production but will be based instead on the “ecosystem services” they provide - public money for public goods.  These services include maintaining soils, preventing flooding, increasing biodiversity and sequestering carbon in the soil.  All of these critical ecosystem services depend on a healthy biodiversity – particularly insects. 

Society should recognise the huge challenges that farmers face with the vagaries of weather markets and farming policy, and ensure that they are paid a fair price for the food they produce. Communities need to support their local farmers as they are asked to transition from a mindset dominated primarily on production, to one where food must be produced with greater consideration for wildlife and the climate emergency.