The Fair to Nature scheme farmers to deliver high standards of food assurance and has its own production standards. For example, certain chemicals and management practices are not permitted. The Fair to Nature standards also go further than any other food production scheme in the protection of declining farmland biodiversity. This is achieved through specific wildlife habitat creation and management, and is the only scheme backed by scientific proof from trials data.
Fair to Nature standards
To meet the requirements of the Fair to Nature Protocol, farmers need to satisfy the following essential criteria:
- Full membership of an approved Assured Food Standards farm assurance scheme
- Drawing up a Farm Environment Plan
- Commit at least 10% of the farmed area to a range of managed wildlife habitats
- Participating in the training programmes provided for farmers
- Complying with the production standards
- Passing an annual verification of the protocol by an approved verifier.
- Membership of Fair to Nature.
These requirements are set out in more detail within the Fair to Nature Protocol and the Training Manual (supplied by Fair to Nature at Induction Training).
Fair to Nature recognises the benefits of reducing carbon emissions in agriculture. Agricultural land uses contribute about 7% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Therefore members are expected to undertake carbon accounting to estimate the emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) produced from farm operations and land, as well as estimate the carbon locked up (sequestered) through soil and woodland management. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has established internationally agreed accounting guidelines for GHG emissions which most carbon accounting tools use. Fair to Nature recommends members to use one of the following carbon calculators:
- CALM www.calm.cla.org.uk – The CLA CALM tool is a detailed carbon calculator for farmers and land managers providing a balance between annual emissions and carbon sequestration of the key GHGs associated with the activities of land-based businesses. It was produced by the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), and allows you to save information to return to it at a later date.
- CFF Carbon Calculator www.cffcarboncalculator.org.uk – a useful calculator for organic farms. It is user-friendly and created by farmers.
The Fair to Nature protocol prohibits a number of pesticides where it believes evidence is clear that there are detrimental impacts on biodiversity if used incorrectly. In order to keep abreast of new evidence, the Fair to Nature advisory panel maintains a watching brief on research and has close relationships with a number of tertiary and research institutions which are active in monitoring the impacts of pesticides on biodiversity.
Water resources are coming under increasing pressure. Agriculture in many countries is by far the largest user of fresh water and farmers need to ensure that its use is undertaken as efficiently as possible. Irrigation has become widespread in dry areas, such as Eastern England, as upward pressure on crop yields intensifies. Technology to improve irrigation efficiency is widely available commercially and is usually extremely cost-effective. Fair to Nature therefore urges its accredited growers to take advantage of this technology. All farmers are required by EU and UK regulations to protect water courses by the provision of buffers. The careful positioning of Fair to Nature habitats can greatly assist with this.