Value farmers if you want to save bees | Letters

We need new agricultural policies to encourage biodiversity, says Jean McKendree, while Morris Bradley congratulates the Guardian for changing how it talks about the climate

Saving bees and other insects is indeed a vital goal for the world (Journal, 18 May). Farming practices do need to change and there are many innovative farmers in the UK who are working hard to improve biodiversity as they provide food for the nation.

We need to ensure that new policies encourage good practice and support farmers. Regenerative farming using diverse crop rotations, no-till planting, use of indigenous seeds and management of livestock grazing to reproduce natural landscape management can reduce or eliminate the need for pesticides and artificial fertilisers while restoring healthy soil. But the transition can take years before the farmers reap the benefits.

We must fight not only for funding set-aside land for wildlife, but for research into natural management of pests like flea beetle and black grass, valorising agricultural waste more effectively, financing training and infrastructure for farmers, and rewarding innovation.

This also means the willingness for consumers to buy more local and seasonal food, eat less but higher-welfare meat, waste less and pay premium prices for higher-quality food rather than cheap imports. If we value farmers as custodians of our land, they will respond by making it a better place for all of us, insect and human.
Dr Jean McKendree
Stockholm Environment Institute,
University of York

• Congratulations on your article on how the Guardian is changing the way it talks about climate (Report, 18 May). It is wise to use “climate emergency” and “global heating” instead of the usual weak wording. I prefer “global overheating”, which is even more explicit and easily understood. Please keep up the effort to communicate these difficult concepts. This is an epic struggle of ideas, crucial to our future.
Dr Morris Bradley

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