Rebecca Davis (BSc, MSC), Technical Assistant at LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) who are managing the horticulture section of our Farming Futures project, has shared information on their Sustainable Farming Review tool.
The LEAF Sustainable Farming Review (LSFR) is a self-assessment on-line management tool to help farmers farm more sustainably. It has been developed in close consultation with farmers and advisors, and is a practical, easy-to-use management tool to help farmers make more informed decisions that will drive their business forward – economically, environmentally, and socially. Over 1000 users complete the Review annually, with many going on to then become LEAF Marque certified.
The content covers all 9 sections of Integrated Farm Management, aiming to report on and record different practices implemented on farm. Reports can be downloaded, which allow growers to take a step back and really look at what it is they are implementing on farm, against practices recommended by LEAF for Integrated Farm Management. The review is made up of qualitative questions, such as “We actively prevent soil erosion”, and quantitative questions, recording data on things like Soil Organic Matter levels, and Nitrogen Use Efficiency.
Performance Graphs (Figure 1) show Economic Performance, Environment Quality and Social Health, all key areas of Sustainability. It is based on responses to the LEAF Sustainable Farming Review. For each area:
- The darker green bar shows your business.
- The paler green bar shows your business for the previous year. (Where data is available.)
- The brown bar shows all LEAF Sustainable Farming Review users for the previous year.
By comparing these bars, you can see how your business has developed from last year to this year (where data is available), as well as how the business compares with all LEAF Sustainable Farming Review users.
Completing the LEAF Sustainable Farming Review creates multiple opportunities for the user. First and foremost, it allows the user to monitor their performance year on year, and acts as a place to record practices and data that can be looked back on to see which areas have improved. Practices suggested within the review supports implementation of IFM and selection of practices currently implemented allows the user to demonstrate performance annually and over time, benchmarking against their own historical data and other users. It also identifies strengths and weaknesses and allows users to set targets for improvement across the whole farm.
Features of the LSFR include:
- Questions – over 90 questions across the 9 sections to cover all aspects of IFM
- Practices – a detailed list of practices to support each principle provide ideas for moving forward
- Guidance – links and documents to help explore in more detail
- Management Plans – guidance documents developed by LEAF to further explain management plans (with a focus on those required for LEAF Marque certification)
- Action Plan – this provides a summary of all the actions identified in each of the 9 sections
- Benchmark – this will help farmers monitor their performance and progress against other users of the Review
- Continuous Professional Development – Completion of the Review qualifies for four types of points: BASIS, NRoSO, DairyPro and PigPro
- Management Reports – various reports are available for users to download to show responses and progress
- LEAF Marque – completion of the LEAF Sustainable Farming Review is a pre-requisite for LEAF Marque certification
The LSFR renews annually, and you have 1 year and 1 month to complete each version.
Taking 2020 and 2021 as an example:
The 2020 LSFR went live in December 2019, and users could start it on December 1st 2019. They then have up until 31st December 2020 to complete the Review. However, during this same period, the new 2021 LSFR was launched on 1st December 2020. So…which do I complete?
- If a user had begun the 2020 Review and completed it, they can begin the 2021 Review as of the 1st December 2020 and will have until 31st December 2021 to complete it.
- If a user started the 2020 Review, but hadn’t completed it by 1st December 2020, they have 2 options:
a) they can complete the 2020 Review up until 31st December 2020, and then move on to the 2021 Review, or
b) they can leave the incomplete 2020 Review and begin the 2021 Review as of 1st December 2021.
- For those growers who haven’t begun the 2020 Review by December 1st 2020, they will automatically be rolled onto the 2021 Review.
We hope that you find it a useful tool, and that you find value in spending time to complete it and reflect upon the reports. Please contact myself at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the LEAF office and ask for Rebecca on 02476 413 911 if you have any troubles, or would like to ask any questions.