Good farming, Better Environment

Report launched by Environment Agency and NFU

A joint report launched by the Environment Agency and the NFU gives a summary of the current state of the farmed environment. Good farming, better environment will provide a baseline for future reports on farming and its impact on the environment.

Good farming, better environment, focuses on key environmental areas in the farming community - water, land, flooding, climate change, waste and habitats and wildlife - highlighting the good news, areas for concern and the way forward. It is essential reading for anyone with an interest in farming and the rural environment.

The report highlights signs of environmental improvement which include:

  • The numbers of pollution incidents caused by farming have fallen by 92%.
  • Greenhouse gases from farming have fallen by 12% over the last 10 years. . 
  • Otters have returned to a third of rivers in England and Wales, demonstrating that numbers of some farmland wildlife have begun to stabilise and recover.

The report's concerns for the farmed environment include:

  • Nutrients, pesticides and sediment from farms are still impacting on some rivers, lakes and coastal water. Whilst the quantities from individual farms may be small, the combined effect of the diffuse pollution is large. This affects the wildlife of our rivers, lakes and coastal waters.
  • Some wildlife, once common to the farmed environment, continues to decline, although these changes are not wholly due to farming. For example, sheep dip pollution has resulted in the decline of insect populations in rivers. The loss of insects, an important food source for fish, impacts on fish stocks. 
  • The decline of some species of farmland birds has stabilised in recent years. However, six of the nine most threatened or red-listed farmland species, starling, turtle dove, yellowhammer, linnet, grey partridge and skylark, continue to decline.  
  • Climate change will present new challenges for farmers. Some farmers are already adopting new practices to meet these changes by growing different crops to suit warmer temperatures.