‘You can’t farm green if your finances are in the red,’ farmers are told

Natural capital is essential for farmers being able to adopt sustainable practices and do good for the environment, delegates were told at the Oxford Farming Conference Fringe event hosted by Trinity AgTech.

At the event, held on 8th December 2022, the financial, environmental, and social pillars of sustainability were discussed, alongside how to achieve business resilience in the challenging years that lie ahead.

Craig Livingstone, head of farming and rural business at Lockerley Estate & Preston farms in Hampshire, believes financial benefit to the farm business is essential for making ‘green farming’ a viable option.

“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,” he said.

Mr Livingston highlighted the role Trinity’s natural capital navigator, Sandy, had played in opening up commercial opportunities for the Hampshire estate. The software is an end-to-end navigator that enables farmers and landowners to measure, manage and optimise all aspects of their natural capital assets.

Anna Woodley, Trinity AgTech’s director of business development, talked about the three pillars of sustainability – financial, environmental and social – and how they all play a vital part in ensuring farm business resilience for the future.

“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.

“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,” she stressed.

Meanwhile, Nick Holmes from accountancy firm Chavereys urged farmers to plan ahead for the next five years and set aside time for budgeting, scenario planning, and understanding financial commitments.

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

Lastly, Dr Emily Pope from Trinity Global Farm Pioneers encouraged farmers to think about ways to improve their social sustainability, which relies on having the right mindset, being able to adopt new practices and embracing change.

She advised, “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 a sponsor at the Oxford Farming Conference (OFC) taking place between 4 – 6 January 2023. At the event, Trinity will deliver a session titled ‘Mindset: Agriculture’s next revolution,’ which OFC delegates can register to attend for free here.

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