Wyke Farms introduces five pillar ‘Net Positive Farming’ scheme

Wyke Farms, the UK’s largest independent cheddar producers and producers of renewable energy, has announced details of its new ‘5 pillar’ scheme called ‘Net Positive Farming’ which is designed to encourage and financially reward dairy farmers who show evidence of on-farm sustainable practise.

Somerset-based Wyke Farms started working on the ‘Net Positive Farming’ project earlier this year and recently shared results of an independent study showing that carbon emissions on its farm (and the supplier farms included in its pilot group) were at levels 55% lower than the global average of2.5kgCO(e)/kgFPCM (see details here). The ‘5 pillar scheme’ is the second phase of the ‘Net Positive Farming’ project and has been created to bring about real-life industry change.

In addition to incentivising best environmental practise, as part of its Green Deal with farmers, Wyke Farms will be co-funding projects with their farmers that deliver tangible environmental benefits such as energy management surveys with plans and soil sampling. Wyke Farms believes that soil health is critical to capturing carbon and bridging farming to a net zero future.

With immediate effect, farmers supplying milk to Wyke Farms are incentivised to introduce, or improve existing, sustainable farming practices in the following five areas (pillars). Once the criteria has been met they can achieve an extra 0.2 pence per litre of milk for each; meaning an additional 1ppl if addressing all five.

  1. Feed Management 
  2. Soil & Land Management 
  3. Manure Management 
  4. Herd Management 
  5. Energy Management 

To qualify for the 0.2ppl in each pillar farmers will need to meet three out of five modules in the first four pillars and two out of the four in ‘Energy Management’. The pillars were identified in consultation with the Milking Group and each pillar has its own objective that have been designed by Wyke Farms in collaboration with Promar International. 

The purpose of the Pillar Scheme is to affect change and ultimately achievenet positive farming.The standards are pitched at a level that drives continuous improvement.

Richard Clothier, managing director and third generation family member at Wyke Farms, said: “We called the project ‘Net-Positive Farming’ because for me this means that the environment and the community have to be better for having farming there than they would be without it. This means we have to create a net-positive impact in all that we do, so this project strives to wholistically address GHG emissions, soil health and biodiversity. Our industry is facing an existential threat and we have to change. We are on a journey together, together we will improve our knowledge base and strive to be better environmentalists.

“The financial incentive is an important part of the project, but equally important is the knowledge share and building knowledge of environmental best practise with suppliers. We are identifying best practise beacon farmers in each of the pillars who demonstrate what ‘good’ looks like, so this knowledge can be shared with the rest of the pool and the industry can move forward,” Clothier added.

Wyke Farms is the first dairy company to use this approach. The sustainability bonus is built into the headline price paid to the farmers and the new ‘5 pillar’ scheme replaces the old Wyke Sustainability bonus of 0.2ppl for any milk supplier that adopted sustainability into their working practice.

Wyke Farms’ cheese and butter is made with the milk from its cows grazing the lush pastures of the Mendip Hills in the centre of the Cheddar making region in Somerset.

Wyke Farms branded products are available in selected Lidl stores and in Southwest UK ASDA and Tesco stores. All products are available online at: www.wykefarms.com/shop

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