Farming Futures

Developing a new approach to agri-environment delivery

Dartmoor Farming Futures (DFF) is an experimental pilot project aimed at developing a new approach to the management of the public and environmental benefits associated with Dartmoor moorland that;

  • Offers farmers and landowners more responsibility for the design and delivery of agri-environment schemes;
  • Focuses on the complete range of public benefits (ecosystem services) that are associated with upland farming (from food production to carbon sequestration) and identifies priorities for particular spatial areas; and
  • Facilitates a collaborative approach to agreeing the outcomes sought, delivering the management required and assisting with the monitoring process.

The initiative was developed by Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA), The Duchy of Cornwall and Dartmoor Commoners Council, with support from Natural England (NE), Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and South West Water (SWW).

DFF is a bottom up approach to agri-environment scheme design, with its central theme being farmer engagement in the design, delivery and monitoring of environmental outcomes, the trial is focused on two areas of common land; (i) Haytor and Bagtor Commons; and (ii) The Forest of Dartmoor.

In the first stage of the pilot farmers identified a range of outcomes that could be delivered from the land, taking into account all ecosystem services that the land provides, these range from food production to water management to biodiversity, depending on each individual area. The farmers then used their expertise, experience and understanding of the land they farm to identify the management to deliver these outcomes. Critical in this is the freedom to determine livestock numbers/stocking rates and dates for turning out and taking livestock off the common. The second stage of the pilot is the ongoing trial of DFF on the two participating commons.

Farming Futures Films

Find more information to the background of DFF and Commoner involvement with the pilot in these films

Watch the films

DFF links into and complements the Dartmoor Vision, a shared vision developed with the landowners and users which sets out what the moorland will look like in 2030, as part of the work on DFF the original Dartmoor Vision was updated to include valued access, stored carbon and water resources. The Vision was used by farmers involved in the initial design stage of DFF to help design the outcomes based on public goods found on their own individual commons.  

The DFF pilot has been subject to two evaluations. The initial evaluation undertaken by Cumulus Consultants in 2013 examined the design phase of DFF and outlines the impacts of the trial at an early stage. The second evaluation, undertaken in 2016, in the fourth year of the DFF trial investigates the longitudinal impacts of DFF, focusing on the impact of the scheme on farmer behaviours, perceptions and farm businesses. The report was published in March 2017.

Links to both of the reports can be found below

Dartmoor Farming Futures Independent Project Evaluation

Dartmoor Farming Futures Evaluation 2017

Note from Locally-led Agri-environment Workshop, Dartmoor, March 2017