A bit about the farm – where is it, what do you grow?
I am a third generation farmer from South Cambridgeshire. In partnership with my father, we grow mainly winter cereals on our family farm of just over 400 acres. We also rent some land and have some contract farm agreements to bring the farm area up to 900 acres. The farm is centred on an old farmstead, which dates back to at least the 11th Century. The farm has seen considerable changes over the years, but none more so than in the last 60 years.
Why being nature-friendly is important, and how you are encouraging wildlife
For over 10 years our farm was in the old Countryside Stewardship Scheme to try to improve the natural habitat for wildlife on the farm. We restored many of the hedges around the fields which had previously been removed, improving the few that were remaining and planting new ones. We also established grass strips alongside hedges and ditches, and on our field boundaries. Over this time, we saw a significant increase in wildlife, both flora and fauna. The RSPB undertook several surveys which identified the wide range of species found on the farm, including birds of high conservation concern such as turtle doves, yellow wagtails and corn buntings.
In the last 5 years we have been in both an ELS and an HLS scheme, planting areas of wild bird mixes, creating wildflower areas and flower enhanced boundary strips, as well as leaving an area of fallow land as a food and nesting source. We have over 40 skylark plots distributed throughout our fields and we continue to sympathetically manage our old ridge and furrow meadows.
In the future, I hope to continue and extend our conservation work and link up wildlife habitats on neighbouring farms. We have made many wildlife corridors across the farm to help the wildlife move about. I continue to run a productive arable business, alongside a great wild life package.
What your thoughts are on how future farming should look to ensure there’s space for food and wildlife
The diversity of the British countryside is an asset that is not only vital to wildlife but is also of great value to the general public. The right support is crucial to the continuation of work done by many farmers and landowners to improve the habitats for wildlife in this country. By working together, we can further enhance and improve our countryside for all to benefit, but we need the right policies and support in place to help us fulfil the potential that farmland has for conservation.
Your reasons for joining the network
I have joined the Nature Friendly Farming Network because I believe that safeguarding the future of our countryside, and the wildlife that resides in it, is imperative. Farmers need the right support to help make this happen.