UK Agriculture Partnership Launched To Tackle Industry Challenges
A new UK Agriculture Partnership (UKAP) forum has been launched, intended to identify and improve collaborative working on the challenges now facing the agriculture sector, with the first meeting focusing on water quality and what solutions there are to driving improvements in this regard.
Other discussions set to take place include on-farm water usage optimisation, how to reduce pollution and carbon emissions in the industry and the role that science and agri-tech has to play in supporting food production.
Sustainable agriculture will prove to be pivotal in helping to resolve many of the world’s most urgent issues, including meeting net zero targets, biodiversity decline and growing the food required to feed a growing population.
The hope is that the UKAP will provide a platform for industry experts, academics, farming stakeholders and industry players to share best practice and scientific knowledge to facilitate collaborative learning and identify new and innovative solutions to shared problems.
George Eustice, environment secretary, noted that the new group will work to tackle issues such as soil enrichment, reducing agriculture’s environmental impacts and how best to go about using technology and science to support food production ambitions.
It’s hoped that the new partnership will bring England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales together to ensure policies are aligned.
When the UK left the EU, agriculture became a devolved policy area, with each country responsible for their own agricultural policy, developing plans that work for their own distinct and diverse environments, geographies and farmers.
But this new Defra partnership aims to help drive collaboration so that sustainable approaches to agriculture can be developed, as well as reducing carbon emissions and further increasing farm productivity.
Other initiatives currently ongoing to help support environmental land management include the sustainable farming incentive and the local nature recovery and landscape recovery schemes.
The farming incentive, for example, rewards farmers for producing public goods on their land, paying for actions that have benefits elsewhere in the country.
Farmers are paid to carry out actions to reduce flooding, erosion and run-off, to reduce levels of sediment, nutrients and chemical pollution in water, to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and to improve carbon storage, water storage and biodiversity.
Piloting of this scheme is already underway, with an early rollout taking place this year that will see around ten projects trialled over the coming 12 months.
The local nature recovery scheme will pay for local actions that benefit the environment and climate, such as creating or managing and restoring natural habitats, natural flood management, education infrastructure, events and services, and rights of way navigation and recreation infrastructure.
And the landscape recovery scheme is intended to support landscape and ecosystem recovery through long-term projects such as peatland and salt marsh restoration and large-scale woodland creation and restoration.