A SURVEY of more than 500 farmers by the Campaign for the Farmed Environment (CFE) shows significant improvements in the way England’s farmland is being managed to benefit the environment, but many farmers are unrewarded for delivering these ‘public goods’.

The survey findings highlight the diversity and extent of measures being implemented to help protect water quality, soil health and farm wildlife. Some 90 per cent of respondents had improved their soil management, 81 per cent had increased their efficiency in using pesticide and fertilisers, and 73 per cent had adopted nutrient management planning.

However, the findings also reveal how much work is currently undertaken without any payment from the current stewardship schemes. For every farmer receiving an agri-environment payment for sowing a pollen and nectar mix, another farmer is doing the same voluntarily.

About twice as many arable farmers are providing supplementary feeding for birds and about four times as many are sowing catch and cover crops at their own expense outside any scheme.

Farming Minister George Eustice said: "As we leave the EU, we have an unprecedented opportunity to deliver a farming policy which rewards farmers for delivering public goods, including sustainable food production and protecting the environment."