Farmers were looking to drive up environmental standards with over half driven by a sense of personal responsibility to take action
But farmers face high production costs, a lack of alternatives and funding challenges to become greener.
98 per cent of farmers already have measures in place to drive environmental improvements, with 62 per cent also planning further green investments in 2019, according to research commissioned by McDonald’s UK and conducted by the National Farm Research Unit.
Current priorities included improving soil management, preserving the countryside and better water management.
Over half of farmers were driven by a sense of personal responsibility, with a third responding to increased customer demand and only 7 per cent said they were driven by government moves to link subsidies to environmental goods.
But 79 per cent said they were facing high production costs, 68 per cent finding it difficult to find viable alternative farming methods and 60 per cent were struggling to raise funds to make the improvements. 40 per cent say they could not get access to the right skills, advice and expertise.
Farmers were also looking to technology, with 94 per cent keeping tabs on soil testing equipment, with satellite technology and self-driving tractors also of interest.
Andrew Francis, farm manager at Elveden Farm Estatewhich supplies potatoes to McDonald’s UK, said: “I strongly believe we should grow food responsibly and consider how to make environmental improvements.
“For example, we take action to preserve habitats for rare species by managing field corners and headlands to enhance habitat, and monitor inputs like fertiliser to produce our crop as efficiently as possible.
“As an industry, we need to take a cross sector approach to evaluate our impact and address concerns together.”
Pete Garbutt, agriculture manager at McDonald’s UK, said: “This research shows the huge strides farmers are making to protect the world around us. They believe that good food can also be sustainable and are committed to making this a reality.”
He added McDonald’s was looking to use its scale for good to minimise its impact and help farmers do the same.