Wizards or Prophets - Which is the Right Way Forward for Your Land?
As new opportunities become available to farmers and land owners, John Robson gives his view on whether you should side with the wizards or the prophets.
Whilst travelling to a farm appointment recently, I was intrigued by a radio interview given by Henry Dimbleby who recently left his post as an advisor to DEFRA in order to take a more robust stand on his views regarding the health of the Nation.
His book 'Ravenous' which is due to be published anytime now, should be worth a read but it basically looks at the poor eating habits of the Nation as a whole.
He references the works Charles Mann regarding the wizard and the prophet and rarely in farming or countryside matters has this thinking been more relevant. My understanding is that the wizards believe that we can deal with changes in farm output, food shortages and environmental matters by scientific advancement and adopting new technologies whereas the prophets believe that farmers and landowners need to cut back to get smaller and more environmental, in other words mankind should eat lower on the food chain.
The answer is, as usual, somewhere between the two extremes and that farm production and environmental gain need not be taken in extreme. The most appropriate use for individual areas needs to be an ongoing consideration for all farmers and landowners in what is an ever changing real-time situation.
It seems fairly clear that there is a developing market in carbon and biodiversity offset. That said, high output farmers will require all of their own carbon sequestration and offsetting ability, simple to offset their own food production.
It would be a major error to commit to long term environmental tie ins if this adversely effects the farming business.
Great care is required now so that the opportunities that are developing lead to the best long term overall result for everyone that is involved in the management of the countryside.
Undoubtedly the situation is ever-changing but a full understanding of your own business requirements is essential. It has rarely been more important than now to fully understand the options available to you either by your own in depth research and analysis or by taking good, professional advice.
So often, we see the outcome of decisions and farming arrangements that have not been fully thought through or indeed properly documented. We are of course more than happy to advise or point you in the direction of the advice that we believe to be the best available, but it is up to individual owners and occupiers to ask the questions.