Can we go green without going in the red?

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To farm a new future, we cannot do what we’ve always done, delegates are told.

FINANCIAL, environmental, and social pillars of sustainability within UK growing were recently addressed at an Oxford Farming Conference Fringe event which stressed that there needs to be more recognition of the correlation between growers' finances and environmental pressures.

Craig Livingstone, Head of Farming and Rural Business at Lockerley Estate & Preston farms in Hampshire said the use of Trinity’s natural capital navigator, Sandy, had opened up commercial opportunities for the Hampshire estate – something he believes is essential for making ‘green farming’ viable and highlighting opportunities to stack incomes.

“There are major positive environmental and financial benefits for farm businesses from natural capital, which is needed as you can’t farm green in the red - it must pay,” added Mr Livingstone.

Trinity AgTech’s Director of Business Development, Anna Woodley, said there are three pillars of sustainability: Financial, environmental and social. All are key to ensuring farm business resilience for the future.

She said: “Farm businesses need to stay viable, especially during the uncertain times we’re facing at the moment; but in order to be resilient, we need to be sustainable and that applies on all levels.”

She added: “The environmental pillar of business sustainability is all about preserving the planet and can actually provide some huge commercial opportunities on-farm, which is why taking control of the full scope of your farm’s natural capital shouldn’t be overlooked.”

Meanwhile, Nick Holmes from accountancy firm Chavereys encouraged growers to plan ahead for at least the next five years.

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He said: “Resilience is not just about survival but instead, the ability to deliver on strategic plans and take advantage of any opportunities which arise.”

He said that budgeting, scenario planning and understanding financial commitments were all key to achieving financial sustainability in a farm business. 

Lastly, Dr Emily Pope from Trinity Global Farm Pioneers encouraged growers to look beyond their own normal circle of influence and farm gate to improve their social sustainability. Social sustainability relies on the ability to have the right mindset, be able to adopt new practices and adapt to change.

She said: “Build a social environment that supports you to react, respond and change; look outside your original circle to learn and challenge the norms of where we tend to conform.”

Trinity AgTech is headline sponsor of the Oxford Farming Conference which takes place from January 4th to 6th, where it will host a session entitled ‘Mindset: Agriculture’s next revolution’. OFC delegates can register to attend for free. 

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