There has been a significant increase in the number of farms across the globe achieving LEAF Marque certification and in the amount of land grown to its standards, according to LEAF’s (Linking Environment And Farming) latest global impact report.
The report released at Cereals 2014, shows that the amount of land across the globe growing LEAF Marque crops has increased by 31 per cent in the past 12 months to 247,053 hectares. This includes 186,989 hectares in the UK. The number of LEAF Marque certified producers has also increased by 6.6 per cent from 896 to 955. The majority of LEAF Marque farmers are working within the cereals sector (59 per cent) followed by horticulture (33 per cent).
Launched in 2003, the LEAF Marque is a global assurance system recognising sustainably farmed products. It is based on LEAF’s Integrated Farm Management (IFM) principles and all farms are independently inspected.
As part of the report, LEAF has developed a new set of sustainability indicators to help assess what impact IFM is having on the sustainability of its LEAF farmer members. This covers all aspects of the farm such as soil management, energy and water
efficiency, crop protection, animal husbandry and community engagement.
In the past 12 months, the indicators show that there has been an increase of 46 per cent in the hectares of crop where beneficial wildlife is protected and supported, and a 36 per cent increase in hectares of crop under a Crop Protection Policy. There has also been an increase of 49 per cent in the hectares of crop where nitrogen efficiency per tonne product is measured and similar gains shown for farmers measuring their water
and energy efficiency, both up by 41%.
Commenting on the findings, Caroline Drummond, Chief Executive of LEAF said: “We are hugely encouraged by these findings. They show that LEAF farmer members across the globe are making steady progress towards more sustainable farming practices, through their adoption of IFM and LEAF Marque certification. It is clear that our farmer members are making a significant contribution to the protection and enhancement of our precious natural resources, our landscape and its wonderful wildlife. However, there is still a long way to go. We want to work with our members to help them develop and improve the work they are already doing and to demonstrate the benefits of IFM to other farmers as well as to the wider public. Key to this is being able to effectively measure and evaluate sustainable farming and this report is a big step in helping to achieve this.”