County council’s farms are helping to tackle climate change and nature recovery
Gloucestershire County Council is promoting sustainable farming methods on its rural estate to help tackle climate change.
Its rural estate is spread throughout the county and extends to 63 holdings across 7,000 acres. It consists mainly of smaller family farms, with the majority being between 80 to 140 acres.
More than half of the county council-run farms have already signed up to the Countryside Stewardship scheme, which is a government initiative offering financial incentives to farmers to look after and improve the environment.
It encourages farmers to undertake measures to help sustainability and biodiversity, including:
- Using land that is unsuitable for crops, such as field corners, to plant trees or wild flowers
- Providing winter bird food plots to maintain and increase the bird population
- Creating permanent grassland to encourage flora and fauna to develop
- Delaying cutting natural grass to allow wildlife and bugs to flourish
- Planting new hedgerows and gapping-up old hedgerows
Spot checks are carried out on the farms to ensure they are complying with these environmentally-friendly practices.
In farming terms, soil health is key to tackling climate change through carbon storage, as the plants that are grown help to absorb carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
A number of the county council’s tenant farmers are experimenting with ways to improve their soil health through better use of farmyard manures, reducing the area of land that they plough and using techniques which cause less disruption to the soil structure.
Councillors from all groups represented on the council were recently given a tour of Gamage Hall Farm in Dymock, where tenant farmer Paul Westaway demonstrated how some of these sustainability measures are being put into practice.
Cllr David Gray, cabinet member for environment and planning, said: “It’s great to see some of the farms that we own putting these positive measures into practice to help the environment. Tree planting, ensuring good soil health and looking after the grassland at these farms will all help to achieve a greener Gloucestershire.
“We are trying to change practices so our food production is done in a more sustainable way and it’s really encouraging to see farmers leading the way, as we all need to play our part in tackling climate change.”
Paul Westaway said: “Farmers are working incredibly hard to help achieve ambitious net zero targets, however sustainable, regenerative agriculture and food production must also be profitable.
“We believe the UK has the highest welfare standards in the world and I urge everyone to buy British, buy seasonal and support your local farmers.”
Promoting sustainability on farms will help us work towards a Greener Gloucestershire. To find out more follow #GreenerGloucestershire on social media, visit Greener Gloucestershire - Gloucestershire County Council and sign up to receive updates via our Greener Gloucestershire newsletter.