Farmer Phil Short has been presented with FWAG SouthWest’s Devon Bronze Otter award for the “remarkable and innovative” conservation work he is undertaking.
The award was handed over by farm conservation adviser Roland Stonex, and John Whetman, who has been involved with FWAG SouthWest for over 30 years.
John is coordinator and head judge of the annual Devon Bronze Otter competition, which showcases the long-term commitment to wildlife conservation and sustainable farming shown by many farmers across the county.
The presentation took the form of a walk around Chubbs Farm, near Axminster, to see how Mr Short manages his cows, hedges and small fields.
The farm, which has been run organically for the past 20 years, has four Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) habitats: species-rich pastures managed sympathetically and with guidance from Natural England.
There has been no ploughing; instead, the Shorts rely on old pastures with manure being directly injected. They successfully run a British Friesian organic dairy herd in harmony with wildlife.
The farm is comprised of 75 field parcels on around 220 acres and has an abundance of hedgerows, which are managed on two-yearly rotational trimming, providing wildlife corridors with flower margins. Hedges are laid in rotation with a proportion left to grow up; BAP habitats are managed with grazing and cutting taking place at optimum times. There are also on-roof solar panels, a wood biomass burner and a borehole for domestic and cattle use.