Richard Bramley is a member of the NFU environment forum.
As farmers we have a responsibility as 'custodians of the countryside'. What we have to do in a sustainable way is make sure we continue to deliver on our food needs but also deliver conservation needs as well. Here on my farm in North Yorkshire, I work hard to integrate conservation management with food production.
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I have an arable farm with milling wheat, malting barley, oilseed rape, sugar beet and potatoes. Occasionally flax, linseed and industrial hemp is also grown on the farm. Soil types vary from (silty clay to very light 'blowing' loamy-sand, mainly grades one and two with some grade three). Alongside this are environmental management options that are part of Entry Level Stewardship such as floristic margins and pollen and nectar mixes, as well as cover crops – radish/phacelia and buckwheat offering late season pollen. I also have bat boxes, carry out hedgerow management and plant new trees, all to compliment the stewardship work.
I have a vast array of farmland birds around the farm. I often get asked; how do you manage to attract so many different species? Every farmer is different and there is no particular magic formula. You’ve basically got to understand what you have and know how to utilise it to provide those habitats that farmlands birds thrive in. It’s also about careful management of crops and being mindful of how to use insecticides.
There is no particular magic formula. You’ve basically got to understand what you have and know how to utilise it to provide those habitats that farmlands birds thrive in
The Campaign for the Farmed Environment has played a major role in helping to increase public awareness of the role and value farming has in the countryside and also tremendously successful at raising awareness across the farming industry of the importance of a farmed environment alongside producing high quality food and running a profitable and viable business.
There has been huge farmer engagement and recognition of the CFE and I think farmers are now much more aware that what we do affects so many things at so many levels, and we must not be surprised as to why people are interested in what we do and how we do it.
But we need to show leadership ourselves, so that as time progresses and challenges alter and new ones arise, the ‘farmer’ is considered a key partner in finding solutions.
Part of the process is changing the approach of how we, as farmers, manage our farms. But this is a long-term process and improvements are needed. It’s about changing mind-sets. There is still an awful lot of work to do but the CFE has given us a focal point for that journey.