With rapid population growth and increasing demand for better standards of living, the pressure on natural resources around the world has increased exponentially.
For the agricultural sector, this means improving the productivity of every hectare of land and protecting the ecosystems and natural resources of which farmers have been stewards for generations. There is pressure to produce more with less, while maintaining high standards of quality and safety.
To address this challenging context, farmers around the world have adopted parallel but complementary strategies. On the one hand, adopting natural climate solutions, such as reforestation, cover crops and wetlands restoration; and on the other, deploying increasingly sophisticated technology and data. For example, using analytics to improve yield and productivity, or satellite technology to maximise the precision and efficiency of inputs such as fertiliser. Piloting and implementing on-farm technology has also become an important driver of change in farming.
More resilient farmland
Elizabeth O’Leary, Head of Agriculture
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We have delivered improved asset performance against key metrics. For example, we measure soil pH over a number of years and set target ranges for this. The data shows significant improvements, an important indicator of overall soil health. Other indicators track progress on water use, the extent of conservation areas, and people-focused metrics such as training hours.
There is also evidence of financial benefit. The more that sustainable initiatives are pursued, the better the financial returns. Outputs are weather dependent, so there is no guarantee of continuous improvement every year, so we look at long-term results to examine trends.
More sustainable practices are also driving improvements in the livelihoods of local communities and there is growing pride in adopting methods that demonstrate stewardship of the natural environment.
Systematic reporting is an important driver of good practice and a way of sharing awareness of the issues. In some cases, this involves reporting on actions that farmers have been carrying out for years, but in others it requires new ways of thinking about a familiar challenge.
We started reporting against the UN SDGs in 2018. Many of the impacts and benefits of farming are multi-faceted and relate to several of the SDGs, so taking an integrated approach is important. Using the SDGs as a reporting framework resonates with our investors around the world and provides a common language that enables users to focus their efforts.
All information current as at 30 September 2020, unless otherwise stated.