Swathes of Great Green Bush Crickets and clouds of Marbled White Butterflies were just two of the unusual and rare species to welcome some 50 guests at The Home Farm, Curry Rivel, on a farm walk on Tuesday 27th June 2023. Guests gathered to celebrate The Lang family’s successes on the farm, winners of the Regional Barn Owl Award, FWAG SW’s flagship award to celebrate the best of farmland conservation and positive environmental practices across the six counties of the south west region.



Henry Lang welcomed guests from all over the South West on behalf of the Lang family. The Home Farm is a diversified arable farm on the edge of the Somerset Levels, jointly run by brothers Henry and Richard Lang, with Richard’s son Harry. The story here is special: over 30 years ago, Henry and Richard began to notice a decline in the biodiversity on the farm, notably a fall in the abundance of cowslips, skylarks, butterflies and bees. Having grown up on the farm and being surrounded by an amazing array of wildlife as children, the brothers were prompted to make significant changes to protect and encourage wildlife for future generations, whilst continuing to run a commercially successful farm.

At the start of the walk, thoughtfully managed hedgerows gave way to field margins abundant in wildflowers, and the group gathered by a margin to discuss and identify some of the array of flora that make up the mix. Buffer strips and wildflower margins, or as the Lang’s describe them ‘linear hay meadows’, have been established around all arable fields (some 48km) to protect water quality and promote biodiversity. The Lang’s ensure that no insecticides are sprayed in spring or summer. The margins were planted nearly 20 years ago with a traditional wildflower hay meadow seed mix, carefully harvested from ancient local meadows. Oxeye Daisy, Pyramidal Orchids, Yellow Rattle and Knapweed make up just some of the 40 plus species found in the 6m wide wildflower margins. In addition, Blackthorn thrives within the hedgerows providing food for the caterpillars of the declining and rare Brown Hairstreak butterfly. A large number of voles also live and breed in these margins, the main food source for Barn Owls. Over the years, Barn Owl numbers have been monitored at The Home Farm by the Hawk and Owl Trust with some of the highest levels known in the UK - a very fitting accolade for their most recent award win!



The Home Farm actively minimise fossil fuel consumption and energy use across their enterprises, using direct drilling and minimal cultivation. The farm’s rotation is centered around the production of wheat, using break crops such as linseed, oilseed rape, beans and legume fallow in the rotation to build fertility and minimise weed and disease burdens. Areas of low agricultural productivity have been identified for habitat enhancement using Stewardship options, which has helped promote biodiversity and operational efficiency, with little impact on agricultural output. On the tour guests passed through one such site, which is home to rare arable plants, notably the critically endangered Shepherds Needle and Spreading Hedge-Parsley.

Alongside commercial farming, the Lang’s carefully monitor their environmental impact, including but not limited to: Shrill Carder bee monitoring, grassland survey of arable reversion meadows (of which over 50 wildflower and grass species have been identified, including Adders Tongue Fern), breeding bird species surveys (with various red list species identified including Skylark, Lapwing, Linnet and Spotted Fly Catcher), bat surveys, butterfly monitoring and regular soil sampling. Another stop on the walk led guests to a hay meadow that has not been ploughed in living memory and has never been sprayed. It is managed with a late hay cut (August/September) and grazed by sheep over winter only, making for an impressive and diverse spot that replicates the meadows of old that used to be such an important part of this landscape (according to sources up to 97% of the wildflower meadows have disappeared since the 1940’s).



The farm, currently in Higher Tier Countryside Stewardship scheme, also has traditional cider orchards grazed by sheep. After the walk, guests were invited to one such orchard for cider made on the farm and to enjoy a BBQ. Eight ponds and lakes have been created for wildlife (habitat for Great Crested Newts), as well as 15 acres of native woodland, Skylark and Lapwing nesting plots, a fully restored Grade II listed barn and solar panels amongst other initiatives. Guests were able to wander around one of the newly dug ponds (fed by harvested rainwater from nearby barns and teaming with life in just its second summer) and meander through a 20-year-old wildflower meadow where even the odd Bee Orchid can be spotted!

Henry and Richard passionately believe in educating future generations about the English countryside, and they are delighted to host FWAG SW’s Kingfisher Award Scheme, where primary school groups from the region visit the farm for hands-on activity-based learning about farming and wildlife.

Many congratulations to Henry, Richard, Harry and the entire Lang family for being awarded the SW Regional Barn Owl trophy. The farm is an exemplar of modern farming, showing that commercial agriculture and habitat conservation can work side by side and are not mutually exclusive. They truly believe the future is bright!

Richard, Henry and Harry Lang with the Barn Owl Trophy, photographed in the orchard at The Home Farm


The Barn Owl Award is FWAG SW’s flagship award to celebrate the best of farmland conservation and positive environmental practices across the six counties of the South West region. If you would like any further information about the Barn Owl Award, or our other competitions, click here.