BBC Radio Four’s Farming Today focus on crop science and technology in their Saturday show (29 October 2016).
RAU academic publishes Nuffield Farming Scholarship report
Jonathan Brunyee, Senior Lecturer in Farm Business Management at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU), recently published his Nuffield Farming Scholarship report entitled ‘Building a Sustainable Farm Business’.
Jonathan, who is also tenant farmer on the Sherborne Park Estate in the Cotswolds, was co-sponsored by the National Trust – the first time the National Trust has funded an award.
The scholarship allowed Jonathan to study various models for building a sustainable farm business which value environmental, human, and social assets. While travelling through Romania, USA, Canada, and China, plus trips to Italy, France, Belgium and Ireland, he met with a range of inspirational eco-entrepreneurial farmers and pioneering academics.
Jonathans’ report suggests that: “Our ecosystems and natural resources are being continually depleted. We are far from achieving a sustainable level of existence and development, and travelling the globe has confirmed this to me. Agriculture and our food chains are, whether we like it or not, a major culprit.”
He stresses, however, that: “Our wonderful industry also has many of the answers, and I witnessed great examples of practical farming and pragmatic programmes that deliver. Within the regenerative practices of Joel Salatin at Polyface Farm in West Virginia, the farming systems trials at the Rodale Institute, and the work of organic entrepreneurs Dan and Tincuta Cismas in Transylvania, I saw hope.”
His report conclusions fall under eight key themes. To build a sustainable farm business and a future proof industry we must:
- Tell our story and celebrate our industry
- Put soil health first
- Celebrate the role of small farmers
- Nurture people
- Seek outcomes not output, effectiveness not efficiency
- Build diversity and complexity
- Seek regenerative agricultural systems
- Move to a true cost paradigm
The report offers recommendations for the industry and his sponsor. Jonathan also considers what next for his farming business and his academic role at the RAU.
Jonathan concludes: “The challenge for the industry is to build new integrated policies and mechanisms for farming, food and the environment that deliver the full range of public goods. This will take time, clear thinking, leadership, communication and a decent budget. Brexit, which I didn’t see coming at the start of my Nuffield journey, should now be seen as an opportunity to build a more sustainable, regenerative system that works with nature, not against it.”
You can read Jonathans’ full report here.
Jonathan will present his finding at the Nuffield Conference in Newcastle on Friday 25 November.
The Nuffield Farming mission is to ‘lead positive change in agriculture, and inspire passion and potential in people’. Nuffield sponsor around 20 scholars each year who are then expected to spend 8 weeks travelling before reporting back to the industry.