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*Essential Aid to Focus on Sustainability*

*Crop management plans a necessity*

The long overdue changes in farming policy are beginning to take shape
and the emphasis for land managers is now to focus on sustainable
agriculture.

This has ben reflected in the Government’s strategy for farminga d food
and reinforced by the mid-term review proposals of the Common
Agricultural Policy.

The newly piloted “entry-level’ agri-environment scheme is set to create
a new £500 million business in 2005.

Suffolk stands to receive £10m to add to the Environmentally Sensitive
Area and Countryside Stewarship Scheme payments – and so real value is
being placed on the environment.

For the farmer, the new initiatives demand more formalised plans for
their crop management in order to demonstrate an Environmental
Management System approach to access these new payments. This leads to
the requirement for a whole farm plan.

The information required for this process is detailed and not available
from one source. It therefore requires an enormous input of time on
behalf of the land manager to access reliable data in order to fulfil
the requirements.

Hampshire County Council has identified this need for land managers to
be able to understand the precise nature of their farm and then to
construct the most suitable farm management plan.

It is creating the LaMIS (Land Management Information System) which is
being designed with the objective of protecting and enhancing those
important features identified on the farm. It will show the land manager
how the farm fits into the context of its surrounding environment,
optimising the part it can play in supporting the local rural economy
and vitally, producing a commercially viable return from the farm.

LaMIS will provide a whole range of information on an attractive and
easy to understand website.

Land managers will be able to identify the position of their land
through GIS (Geographic Information System) technology and then access
directly a wide range of information including geology, landscapes,
habitats and important species, buildings and ancient monuments, as well
as public rights of way.

All this information is currently available but demands a huge amount of
time to assemble from various sources.

LaMIS will provide an essential “one-stop information shop” to all land
managers.

Otley College, in conjunction with Woolley & Co, the land and project
management company of Freckenham, and the Farming and Wildlife Advisory
Group, have been successful in winning the contract to ensure the system
provides the relevant information in a user friendly way.

It is envisaged this system will become the route for IACS (Integrated
Administration Control Systems) submissions for production-related
payments, as well as for any other agri-environmental schemes under the
new reforms.

The system is to be trialled by “real” farmers, from a range of farming
systems to ensure that the end product is of real use and benefit to the
user.

Farmers and land managers from Suffolk are invited to contract Neil
Ridley at Otley College (01473 784165) if they wish to be involved in
testing this information system.

East Anglian Daily Times | Saturday, April 19, 2003

 

April 19th, 2003
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