This week’s sustainability Focus is all about the simple things and, as always, sustainability has to focus on its three main pillars – economics, environment and social.

There is a lot of noise around sustainability at present and it often focuses on the environment, so it is important to keep economics to the front as well, especially in a year like 2023 when input costs are high and output costs are falling or are lower than last year.

Martin Crowe farms at Carrigmore, Doon, Co Limerick (Footprint Farmers).

Aidan Brennan makes a very important point about economics. “There is a saying that you cannot be green if you are in the red,” he writes.

With that in mind, Aidan has outlined some tips to improve sustainability on farms.

These range from something as simple as correcting soil pH to more complicated actions such as using clover more efficiently and increasing slurry storage.

We summarise what has happened as part of the Footprint Farmers Programme so far.

Some of the actions that Aidan suggests have been implemented on these farms and are helping to reduce costs and increase efficiency on farm.

These pages also give a breakdown of some of the results from samples taken on the farm. These results provide farmers with a base to work with to improve things.

For example, improving carbon storage on farm can improve soil health and structure by planting multispecies swards or cover crops. This can also help to reduce fertiliser use.

An image from Martin Crowe's farm.

The biodiversity scores also give farmers somewhere to start on improving habitats on their farms.

Farmers have now received feedback and will work to improve biodiversity on farm.

You can keep an eye on the Footprint Farmers Programme online and in the paper.