If you have been following the news, you may know that changes are being made to agriculture from 2021 onwards. The new Agriculture Bill will reimburse farmers to manage the land in a way that encourages biodiversity, provides cleaner air and water, whilst they continue to produce quality food.
I spoke with Chris who runs Roome Farm in Dorset with his wife Sarah about life on the farm and how they feel the new Agriculture Bill will affect them. Chris grows maize, which can leave him vulnerable to soil erosion. The run-off water from rainfall affects both the shape of the land, and its nutrient content, but also has a detrimental effect to the condition of waterways around the farm. To tackle the problem, Chris is planning on rotating his crops from solely maize, to other arable produce such as barley, wheat and oats. Having a more diverse range of crops will hopefully strengthen the structure of the land, and consequently help him reduce the degraded soil.
Prior to the introduction of the new Agriculture Bill, he has considered planting more woodland on the farm. In the 1970’s, the government were subsidising farmers like Chris’s Dad to remove woodland areas to increase space for farm production. Fortunately, the opposite is now being encouraged. Planting trees and hedges is one step which can help reverse the effects of soil erosion. Not only do they absorb excess water from rainfall, but they act as a barrier to high winds blowing the soil.
As the government has bold plans to increase the amount of woodland in the UK by 30,000 hectares per year before 2025, farmers can be at the forefront of achieving this goal; whilst working to solve some of the day-to-day issues at the farm such as soil erosion and flooding. As agriculture is a crucial component in tackling climate change, it was encouraging to speak to Chris, and to hear he would welcome the new subsidies.