New income streams for farming

Trees reflected in the lake at Stourhead, Wiltshire, in May

We’re working on a project with think tank Green Alliance to show how new markets could help to support farming methods that reduce flooding, provide clean water and restore wildlife, for the benefit of all.

The government is working on its replacement of the Common Agricultural Policy. Its proposed Environmental Land Management system would provide farmers with an income for managing land to deliver healthier soils, cleaner water, more wildlife, and better access for people to the countryside.

We and our partners at Green Alliance are proposing ways that the new system can also unlock private investment in environmentally friendly farming.

How would this work?

In 2016 we first introduced our Natural Infrastructure Scheme concept which would bring new income streams into farming. We outlined what government could do to help accelerate the creation of viable markets that farmers and land managers could access for delivering land management that restores and protects the natural environment.

Since then we have produced a further four reports, testing and developing our Natural Infrastructure Scheme concept. 

  • The second report tested our model to show what conditions it would need to work.
  • The third report examined the potential to apply our Natural Infrastructure Scheme concept to improve soil and water quality in the Anglian River Basin – a key food producing region in England.
  • The fourth report outlined ways in which government's new environmental land management system could catalyse and incentivise private Natural Infrastructure Scheme payments for environmental enhancement alongside public money for public goods.
  • The latest report shows that carbon reduction could be added to the package of services offered in a Natural Infrastructure Scheme, helping the UK to meet its carbon targets and providing a new source of funding for farmers and land managers.

We have also produced a summary document which brings all the key elements of our work together.

What are the next steps?

We are continuing to work with Green Alliance, farmers, landowners and businesses to develop and test this concept and will share our learnings. Find out more about a key project below.

As part of our Riverlands programme we're also exploring what part conservation covenants may play in unlocking new long-term finance for farming.

Ullswater Lake Cumbria

New income streams could help farmers deliver for nature 

We're working with several partners to test how private income could help farmers deliver for their business and for nature.