Farmers go wild together

A series of free advisory briefings and farm walks will be held across the eastern counties in the next six weeks. Organised by Adas on behalf of Natural England, farmers will have an opportunity to discuss and compare their experience of the entry level stewardship schemes.

A series of free advisory briefings and farm walks will be held across the eastern counties in the next six weeks.

Organised by Adas on behalf of Natural England, farmers will have an opportunity to discuss and compare their experience of the entry level stewardship schemes.

Environmental Stewardship, which was launched in March 2005, enables farmers in England to be rewarded for managing the landscape and wildlife on their land.

A total of more than 4,074 farmers in the east of England have signed up to environmental stewardship involving more than 600,000 acres.


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The first farm walk takes place at the RSPB's Hope Farm at Knapwell, near Cambridge, on Friday. The 450-acre arable farm was bought by the RSPB in 1999 to trial and demonstrate farm management techniques beneficial to farmland wildlife.

There are various entry level stewardship (ELS) options to be seen, including skylark plots.

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On May 22, farmers can visit a 350-acre mixed farm at Swanton Morley, near Dereham, which has combinable crops and a large area of grazing marshes alongside the River Wensum. This farm is already in both ELS and higher level stewardship (HLS) and options such as hedge restoration, grass margins and low input grassland options will be demonstrated.

A farm at Hillington, near King's Lynn, will welcome visitors on May 24. Cropping on this mixed 325-acre farm includes winter and spring barley and sugar beet. It has been in the Countryside Stewardship Scheme for three years and already has an ELS agreement in place.

A total of six walks are planned across the region next month, starting on June 5 at Guyhirn, near Wisbech. The farm already has seen gains from sowing wild bird seed mixes, pollen and nectar mixes and beetle banks on a 250-acre arable farm with countryside stewardship scheme and ELS agreements.

On June 6, at Little Thetford, near Ely, there is a visit to a 620-acre arable farm to find out more about the benefits of involvement with ELS for two years.

A refresher on managing a range of ELS options is the feature of a special farm walk on June 8 at Prickwillow, also near Ely. This arable farm is in its fourth year of countryside stewardship and second year of ELS. It has a newly-established woodland and offers a syndicate shoot.

Other visits include a tour of a large arable farm at Dennington, near Woodbridge, on June 15 with cropping of winter wheat, spring beans, oilseed rape, barley and sugar beet. Here there will be plenty of opportunity to see hedge management, in-field arable options and grass buffer strip options being demonstrated.

The last visit to Ixworth Thorpe, near Bury St Edmunds, takes place on June 26. The management options involving woodland reed beds, wild bird cover, pollen and nectar mixes and a grassland Site of Special Scientific Interest.

To apply, send an e-mail conservation@adas.co.uk with details of your name, full postal address and holding number or telephone 01954 268301. All visits start at 10.30am and end at 1pm. For further information about Natural England, visit www.naturalengland.org.uk

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