"When the farming community asks for 'clear and consistent messaging' about what makes sustainable agriculture we can't do it because there is no clear and consistent message. What is best to do depends on where you are," he explained.
"Yes, we can drive resource efficiency within fields, but actually managing the ecosystem services as a whole is very place-dependent and context-dependent. There is no point in having a single farmer growing a pollinator margin in the middle of a huge agricultural prairie."
Natural England director of land-management strategy James Marsden said his agency and its predecessors have for the past 60 years been "applying a series of sticking plasters to a fundamentally unsustainable system of agriculture now vulnerable to pesticide/herbicide resistance, pollination problems, too much or too little water and heavily reliant on state funding".
He warned: "Agri-environment schemes are past their high point, increased regulation isn't on the agenda and no one's developed market mechanisms that work. So there's no better time to explore the concept 'sustainable intensification' and how to apply it on farms to increase food production whilst maintaining and enhancing biodiversity."