When you’re doing your food shop, would you like to be able to look out for a trustworthy label that shows the farm produce you’re buying is sustainably produced? The CRT’s Head of Wildlife Monitoring, Dr Vince Lea, is taking part in a project to define on-farm sustainability and enable farmers to measure their whole-farm impacts in a consistent way. Dr Lea tells us more…

The Sustainable Food Trust and Reading University School of Agriculture have come together with a coalition of over 80 organisations from the food and farming sector, with the goal of producing a Global Farm Metric – a measurement of how sustainable a farming operation is.

The CRT is a partner in this project alongside other conservation charities including the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG), Linking Environment And Farming (LEAF), the RSPB and the Soil Association. Other organisations involved include Waitrose and Tesco, Cornell University, NatWest and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

The aim is to create a common language for describing the sustainability of any farm. The project partners have identified 11 categories that are markers of sustainability. They are now developing indicators that can be used to assess how well a farm is delivering on each category.

The Global Farm Metric wheel* pictured below shows how these categories are all equally important – a wheel with a missing spoke won’t work!

Measuring how well a farm supports biodiversity

I joined the panel of technical experts working on the biodiversity category of the Global Farm Metric. Over the last few months, we have been developing a set of measures that a farm would be assessed against to determine its performance in relation to supporting biodiversity.

As part of this, I spent an interesting day with two dozen scientists from the world of biodiversity. It was great to see so much work being done to answer a question many of us have asked in the past; how to measure biodiversity in a meaningful way, so that farmers know if they are doing well and consumers can trust what they are buying?

The outcomes of the panel’s discussions will be presented to farmers and other stakeholders for further review. It is a long and thorough process that aims to produce something that has widespread agreement.

Similar processes are planned for the other 10 categories in the Global Farm Metric wheel.

Farmers can get involved by taking part in a trial or joining the farmers forum. Visit www.globalfarmmetric.org to find out more.

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What do you think about this project? Write to us at [email protected]

*The Global Farm Metric wheel showing the 11 categories to measure a farm’s sustainability.