December, 2016

Farming

Farming
Welcome to this group for all farmers and anyone with an interest in farming. Read our blog to see how we're working with farmers and to find out where you can meet us at events.

Farming

Find out more about how we're working with farmers and others to provide space for farmland nature in the landscape. Join in the discussion on farming issues and share tips for wildlife-friendly farming.
  • Yes to nature-friendly farming!

    The end of the year brings to a close a pioneering three-year project that we’ve been leading in the Fens. The big aim has been to raise awareness of nature-friendly farming in the Ouse Washes landscape, which is a particularly rich area for farmland wildlife, particularly birds.

    Image: Turtle doves on machinery (rspb-images.com) 

    We’ve done this by working with a group of 12 farmers, whose land covers an impressive 4000 hectares, to form the Ouse Washes Nature Friendly Zone. The zone represents a high standard of farming, both for the benefit of people and wildlife, and we’ve been shouting about this great work!

    Over 2000 people have attended our activities and events: from wildlife workshops to farm walks to evening talks. Local Fenland communities have soaked up our messages about the importance of nature-friendly farming for protecting our vulnerable farmland wildlife. By getting local people to support their work, we hope that farmers’ efforts to look after sections of their land for nature will continue long into the future.

    Image: (c) Gemma Wells

    Also with all the political change on the horizon, we see now as a great time to stand up for nature-friendly farming and the funding that encourages it. We’ve been collecting peoples’ support by taking “Fotos For Farms” – people saying YES to nature-friendly farming.

    Image: (c) Gemma Wells

    If you’d like to help us continue our mission of raising awareness of nature-friendly farming, have a watch of our new videos and share them with your friends on social media.

    And if you want to get out and about to see farmland wildlife for yourself, we’ve put together a farm walks guide for the Ouse Washes Nature Friendly Zone that can be picked up at RSPB Ouse Washes reserve visitor centre. Or if you live further away, find your own farm walk using public footpaths through farmland this winter.

  • Know your birds for the Big Farmland Bird Count

    With just three months until the 4th Big Farmland Bird Count, the GWCT is offering an exciting opportunity for those farmers who are thinking of taking part to book on to a farmland bird identification training session. If you’re a farmer and not confident about telling a Tree sparrow from a House sparrow this course could be for you.

    Jim Egan of the GWCT comments; “If you can’t name every bird you see on your farm, the 20 ID days across the UK to help farmers recognise them. With days between 9 January to 3 February they are run by a farmland bird expert, along with a host farmer. By the end of the ID day you should be able to recognise the top 20 bird species you can expect to see on your land over the winter period. In addition, a colour ID guide is provided to those who attend, with a focus on birds that are harder to identify. I would say to anyone thinking about taking part – do it. Get out and enjoy the birds on your farm and give us the opportunity to shout about the great work you’re doing.”

    Jim continued to say “Over 970 farmers took part in 2016, recording 130 species of birds across approximately 900,000 acres. This year we are aiming to at least double the number of people taking part. So get trained and give the count a go.”

    Special offer vouchers for seed mixes that will be given to each participant have been kindly provided by Syngenta & Kings and BASF Plc & Limagrain UK.

    Graham Hartwell, Environmental Stewardship Manager UK/Ire at BASF Plc commented; “The continued success of the BFBC is due to the interest and commitment of increasing numbers of farmers to show the wider farming industry what can be achieved from some small changes to their farm management. Many new participants are inspired from the identification days where understanding the needs of farmland birds and learning that simple management changes can help support many species. The experience of learning how to help each species is a positive step forward. Just how small and spectacularly coloured our bird species are, are just two of the learning points that can be experienced on an ID Day, and change many supporters approach to both habitat management and talking about their farms and the wildlife they support."

    The 2017 ID Days are:

    January
    11th - Shropshire
    17th - Essex
    18th - West Midlands
    20th - Nottinghamshire
    23rd - Perthshire
    24th - Cornwall
    24th - Hertfordshire
    25th - County Durham
    26th - Northern Ireland
    30th - Aberdeenshire

    February
    1st - Somerset
    2nd- North Yorkshire
    2nd- Wiltshire
    2nd -West Sussex
    3rd - Norfolk 
    3rd- Leicestershire 
    3rd- Thetford
    3rd – Oxfordshire

    Feedback from those who attended last year was very positive, with comments such as “great day – inspired to do more habitat enrichment”, “brilliant day, learnt a lot,” and “very informative and worthwhile event,”.

    The ID days cost £10 per person and places sold out very quickly last year.  For more information please visit https://www.gwct.org.uk/farming/big-farmland-bird-count/farmland-bird-id-days/

    GWCT’s Big Farmland Bird Count is generously sponsored by BASF and delivered in partnership with the FWAG Association, LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming), NFU and CLA.

  • Latest corn bunting research finds simple solution

    In case you missed it, there's exciting news from our research teams looking at solutions to help corn buntings - check out the findings from this latest research here. Could this work on your farm?