Steve Harris (pictured above being photo bombed by ‘Daisy’), Agricultural Manager at Saputo, talks to us about why they got involved with the TWSBB.
“Our membership of the TWSBB has helped to raise the profile of environmental priorities and opportunities across the Tamar basin for us and other companies whose business rely on the wellbeing of the natural capital of the Tamar catchment.
The work, experience and skills of the Westcountry Rivers Trust (WRT) has been valuable in helping farmers to cut through the wealth of guidance, standards, regulation and legislation in identifying opportunities with tangible environmental benefits.
Helping our supplying farmers to secure funding for these improvements has also been very well received.”
“Saputo Dairy UK (formerly Dairy Crest) produces a wide range of market-leading food brands, including Cathedral City cheese, Clover dairy spread, Country Life butter and Frylight cooking spray. We also manufacture specialised ingredients used in infant formula.
We receive milk from around 335 farms in the South West that are dedicated to supplying the Davidstow Creamery. Around one third of our supplying farms are located within the catchment of the River Tamar.
We pride ourselves on the close working relationship that we have with our supplying farmers, working in partnership with the objective to make both their and our businesses grow and become more successful.
We recognise the value and importance of spending more time on our supplying farms, understanding our farmers’ needs and helping them to understand ours. Every farmer has a dedicated Farm Business Manager to provide tailored support, guidance and practical on-farm advice.”
“All of our supplying farmers are required to meet our unique Davidstow Farm Standards which reflect best practice in food safety, animal welfare, farming with care and also ensure that our milk meets the strict requirements for infant formula.
The Davidstow Farm Standards have (and will continue to) evolve over time to reflect the priorities of the UK and international dairy sectors. During the most recent development of these standards we have taken the opportunity to increase the focus on environmental priorities, including those linked to the objectives of the TWSBB.”
Working with WRT
“Through our membership of the TWSBB we are working with WRT to support us in undertaking farm ‘environmental health checks’ across a pilot group of forward thinking farmers located within a discrete area of the Tamar catchment centred around the Rivers Wolf, Lyd and Thrushel.
The health checks have focused on farm infrastructure such as slurry and farm yard manure management, livestock gathering, transport, surface drainage and accommodation areas as well as areas of the farm in proximity to surface waters.
A key theme of the health checks has been effective soil management to enhance nutrient management and soil organic carbon and minimise soil losses. As well as enhancing soil water absorbency and retention. These improvements provide soil sustainability and productivity benefits.
The assessments have considered hydrological connectivity and soil erosion risk mapping and extend to woodland creation and/ or tree planting helping to create wildlife corridors throughout the landscape and retaining any water borne sediments running off and down field systems.
The expertise of the WRT in supporting these initiatives has helped farmers to secure valuable funding towards implementing the opportunities identified, such as funding available via the ‘Nature Bid’ online auction.
The health assessments have illustrated a number of common themes regarding opportunities to improve and enhance each dairy farm’s relationship with its receiving river environment. Identifying such common themes enables the work undertaken with this pilot group to be disseminated across the wider group of Davidstow supplying farms.”
“The work and knowledge of the TWSBB and the WRT has helped to increase the environmental skills of our Farm Business Team, enabling them to identify similar opportunities and best practice in their day to day discussions with farmers.”
Communicating our work
“We also make use of other communication channels such as our dedicated website ‘Farm Connect’ to cascade guidance and best practice related to environmental management.
We are committed to reducing the impact of our supply chain on the environment through the objectives and Pledges described by the Saputo Promise www.uk.saputo.com/our-promise/ which include responsible stewardship on farm.”