ANALYSIS - One commercial farming operation in the UK doesn't just think about sustainability as a hot topic that will come and go - it's been working to develop sustainable farming practices for more than 10 years.
Karl Williams, Operations Manager at FAI Farms, says their commercial beef and sheep operation based near Oxford, England, is designed around practical sustainable farming practices.
The aim of FAI is developing sustainable agricultural practices, whilst using research and innovative thinking to consider practical on-farm sustainable solutions and working with our consultancy partners, Williams said.
For the suckler herd, FAI choose the French Saler breed to fit the environment that they are living and working in. He said Salers are known for their easy calving and excellent mothering abilities and are very good converters of poor quality forage, which they tend to grow in the flood plains along the River Thames.
"We really looked at the environment that the farm was operating in and what was the best genetics for our farming system," he said. "It wasn't a case of selecting the animals that we liked the best, but rather we selected the animals for the environment we are farming in."
FAI also raises 1,300 ewes, including 1,100 Coopworth which is a New Zealand breed, and 300 Easy Care ewes. Easy Care is a well-established sheep breed in Britain which requires minimal shepherding and veterinary care, sheds its wool in the summer and does not need shearing.
FAI Oxford is part of a network of commercial farming operations and research facilities in England, Scotland and Brazil that focus on Benchmark Holdings' 3Es - environmental, ethical and economically viable solutions.