Sustainability within the Agri industry, and most other industries globally, has become the flavour of the day. Ever mounting pressure on the environment has forced us to rethink our methods and methodologies when it comes to our business practices.

Pressure from markets, international and national legislation and overall environmental well-being require producers in the agricultural industry to approach the management of their businesses in a new and modern way, with sustainability as the primary goal. Environmental management plays a significant role in achieving these sustainability goals, but just as any business model requires structure and attention to detail, environmental management also requires a structured approach.

Structure in environmental management requires one to take a step back and break down the aspects of the environment piece by piece. Rather than taking the proverbial “bull by the horns”, one can manage the environment sustainably by having small goals and achieving each goal step by step.

The first step to environmental management is setting out policy goals for your agri-business. An environmental management policy should typically outline goals for the future. These goals should outline what you want to achieve within your business in terms of sustainability. Your policy should be a broad set of principles and beliefs that can be implemented in all aspects of your business, ranging from soil, water, energy, waste, and biodiversity management. In short, your policy should describe the dreams you have for the future to have a sustainable business that can last a lifetime and serve generations to come.

Your environmental management plan should go hand in hand with your management policy. Where your policy outlines goals for the future, your plan should contain the steps and actions that you take daily to make these dreams of sustainability become a reality. The environmental management plan should contain the solutions you have to the problems standing in the way of sustainability within your business. These actions should make specific reference to all aspects of your business and should be applied throughout.

To summarise, your environmental management policy should be about the future, whereas your environmental management plan is about the immediate day-to-day actions.