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Cousins working together on our family owned farm with the aim of running a commercial modern farm producing high yielding, high standard crops while maximising wildlife diversity. Brian is said to be the farmer and conservationist, whereas Patrick is a conservationist and farmer. This mix has given a new direction for the farm, building upon the work that our fathers and grandfather has done to improve the overall success of the farm business. The farm has gone from strength to strength with the farm being recognised at a national level winning the coveted National FWAG’s Silver Lapwing Award for farming and conservation in 2009 and then Patrick and Brian were named Countryside Farmer of the Year by the Farmers Weekly in 2010.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Winter jobs

We are in the fortunate position of being completely up to date with our autumn land work and the fields are starting to cover with green as next years crops emerge. Our attention now shifts to a very long list of winter jobs and whilst the weather is so good we are getting on with our programme of pond restorations. The ponds that require the most urgent work are the ones that are almost completely dried out.

All ready for the digger...
The lack of rain, 2 feet of mud and leaf litter and big, thirsty trees all combine to create very dry ponds. The ponds on our clay based land were designed to hold water all year round and benefit from de-silting when required. The HLS scheme has enabled us to put together a programme of pond restorations and we are doing a couple each year which gives the farm a covering of ponds at different stages of growth, providing good habitat for many different species. Our aim is over the 10 years of our HLS scheme is to clean out most of the ponds on the farm and have visibly clear water in all of them.

Today we have cleared the pond in the front of our farmyard. There was 5 Lombardy Poplars, planted in the 70s for matchsticks and 3 huge willows shading out the ponds and dropping vast amounts of leaves every autumn. The single most important thing we want is plenty of light getting to the water which allows the broad leaved aquatic vegetation to flourish, providing the base of the aquatic ecosystem. With this in mind the poplars have been removed and the willows pollarded. The willows will get the little and often treatment from now on and we will never plant any Lombardy Poplar on the farm again, however as always we will replace every tree removed with a nicer more native tree with plenty of conservation value! PJB

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