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Natural Capital Assets

When talking about assets on farms, we often fail to recognise the most important assets we have. The make up and quality of soils, the condition and movement of water across our landscape, the quality of our air, the symbiotic relationship with wild flora and fauna, and so much more besides, can all dictate how your yields, required inputs, and environmental measures. If managed and supported correctly, they could reduce your inputs, grow your profits and even generate thier own streams of revenue, all while benefiting the environment.

An example

A key example Suffolk FWAG often talks about is Soil Organic Matter (SOM), as it keenly demonstrates direct benefits both environmentally and operationally for the farmer, as well as the wider impact Natural Capital goals can stretch.

Overall, Soil Organic Matter means that the soil contains more organic substances, be it Mycorrhiza or decaying biology, the latter of which attracts a plethora of worm and nematodes to create worm casts and restructure soils. This means that left over roots, stubble and similar are assimilated, nutrients and all back into the soil. The worm casts improve soil structure, which means that water can more easily permeate down, resulting in increased water capacity, meaning that floods have to be greater to actually sit on the field, and droughts have to last longer to dry out the soil. Better soil means less topsoil loss, less flood water, less need to water the field in the height of summer. Because the water can enter the soil easier, it can take fertilisers and applications into the soil with it; in normal conditions, 40% of applied N, P & K actually enters the soil and helps the crop, a number which only increases with improved absorption rates. Therefore you are spending less on field inputs, or, at least, getting more out of the money spent on the field.

The best way to encourage increased Soil Organic Matter is to include cover crops into the rotation, which themselves reduce surface run off of water, hold topsoil in place and can recycle nutrients into the soil through crops like legumes, which could in turn be another saleable crop. 

Kobe, the FWAG dog, completely hidden in a crack in the field caused by poor management in a drought
Field Damage (large) 2, another view of Kobe's crack
Poor soil structure in farmed field
Good soil structure in field edge
Wheat crop

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Suffolk FWAG's Natural Capital

Thanks to Suffolk FWAG's impartial, agenda-less nature, we can advise land owners and farmers on the best ways to support their businesses. By adopting and advising practices that focus on Natural Capital Assets, we can provide both environmental benefits and business advantages to our clients, and produce self-sufficient systems that produce healthier crops and longevity in farming systems.

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Funding support

There is, of course, financial implications for adopting these principals, click below to find out how we are advising to support this.

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Where to start

Looking for an evidence based, data driven approach with tailored advice, click here.

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Options

The approach to Natural Capital is dependant on the farm, so our approach is just as customisable, click here to see some of the possible routes through.

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