Soil Scanning Study attracts Minister for the Environment to Tamar Valley Farm

Minister for the Environment, Rebecca Pow's, visit to the Tamar Valley AONB. Deer Park Farm.

Minister for the Environment, Rebecca Pow MP, visited a farm in the Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) last week, to find out more about the recent Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) Tests & Trials work carried out to discover how soil scanning and soil carbon levels can be understood and applied more widely into farming practice.


Martin Howlett, local beef and sheep farmer and member of the Tamar Valley AONB Executive Committee, hosted the visit at his farm near the village of Luckett. Martin was joined by Robin Jackson, Director of the Rural Business School and the Agri-tech Cornwall Project, Duchy College; Becky Willson, Farm Carbon Cutting Toolkit (and previously Duchy lead on the Tests & Trials project design & delivery); Cllr Martin Worth, member of the Tamar Valley AONB Executive Committee, and; Dan Cooke, Tamar Valley AONB Manager.


Presentations and demonstrations took place around the Tamar Valley AONB ELMS Tests & Trials project, which was funded by Defra in 2020 and due to complete this month. The Environment Minister was particularly interested to learn how the findings can feed into forthcoming important work on farm payments to reflect ‘public good’.


Minister for the Environment Rebecca Pow said: “It was great to visit the Tamar Valley and hear about the positive findings of the Tests & Trials project.


“Soil health is key to plant health. That is why our Sustainable Farming Incentive is starting with soils, a better understanding of our soils and incentivising farmers to be custodians of their soils.


“We have recently announced that farmers will be able to earn up to £70 per hectare for actions to improve the health of their soil – leading to increased biodiversity, improved water quality and reduced carbon emissions.”


Dan Cooke, Tamar Valley AONB Manager, says: “We were pleased to welcome the Environment Minister to the Tamar Valley, and to be able to share the findings of the project that assessed the use of new technology as a tool for farmers to measure their soil carbon levels and wider soil health measures.


Dan continues: “We’ve been impressed by the commitment and interest from farmers involved in the trials, and this stands us in good stead for the new Farming in Protected Landscapes programme.  Our thanks to all those involved. These Tests and Trials also show the power of local planning, accountability and delivery by AONBs and their partners, helping to deliver on national priorities and objectives, as part of the Government’s agricultural transition, carbon net zero and local nature recovery ambitions.”

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