News and blog News stories [28.06.18] Cumbrian Farmer Wins Prestigious National Award for Farming and Conservation A Cumbrian Farmer has been recognised by the farming and conservation industry for his outstanding efforts to promote good habitat and environmental management on his farm. Giles Mounsey-Heysham was awarded the highly-coveted ‘Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group National Silver Lapwing Award’, which is now in its 41st year. The award, generously sponsored by Waitrose for the 10th year, recognises farmers who go the extra mile to protect and enhance the countryside in which they farm. Giles was awarded from a national shortlist of seven farms, each selected for demonstrating outstanding commitment to good environmental practices, alongside running successful farm businesses. The 2018 FWAG Silver Lapwing Award was presented to Giles Mounsey-Heysham on Thursday 21st June 2018 by Charles Beaumont, Silver Lapwing Head Judge, Martin Hole, Silver Lapwing Judge, and Duncan Sinclair, Agriculture Manager for Waitrose. This year the award ceremony was jointly hosted by Suffolk FWAG and the 2017 Silver Lapwing winner Edward Flatt, at Edward’s farm in Suffolk. Many attendees from all sectors of the British farming and agriculture industry attended the award presentation and lunch. The presentation was followed by a tour of Eastwood Farm, which highlighted some of the reasons why Edward won the Silver Lapwing in 2017. Giles Mounsey-Heysham with the Silver Lapwing Trophy Giles Mounsey-Heysham of Castletown Estate Farms on winning the Silver Lapwing award; ‘I am very honoured to be presented with the Silver Lapwing Award, against such stiff competition. It is a testament to my team at Castletown Estate and this will motivate us to continue our conservation work on the farm. We will be proud to hold the Lapwing for the next year and feel privileged to be part of this award’. After Lunch and the presentation of the 2018 Silver Lapwing Award, a walking tour took guests on a circular route around a portion of Eastwood Farm. The walk showcased some of the features in place and many plant species Edward Flatt has on his farm, highlighting why Edward was awarded the Silver Lapwing Award in 2017. The farm walk was led by Tim Schofield, FWAG Suffolk Farm Conservation Adviser, who has worked closely with Edward Flatt at Eastwood Farm, and Andrew Cooper, Managing Director at Walnes Seeds. About the 2018 Winner Giles Mounsey-Heysham of Castletown Estate Farms, Carlisle, Cumbria A 4000 acre farm between the Esk and the Eden in the heart of the Solway Estuary, selling 1200 finished beef cattle a year and growing dairy forages. The challenge of economically grazing 2500 acres of salt marsh, covered by the sea at high spring tides, to provide habitat for nesting waders and tens of thousands of wintering wildfowl, is a monumental undertaking for Giles and his team. Well supported by Natural England, this internationally important wildlife jewel has been transformed from a debt laden, loss making, liability to a diverse and profitable business by Giles during his high-energy 50 years in charge. While the marsh is the drama, imaginative conservation also provides wildlife rich woodlands and meadows through the productive remainder of the farmland, with exciting potential to push conservation even further in the future. About the 2018 Runner-Up Robert Hodgkinson & Son of Tyn y Coed, Mold, Wales 150 acres of organic permanent pastures, contract rearing 280 dairy heifers. Robert has restored the medieval pattern of woods, hedges, spinneys and roads on this treasured farm. Specimen oaks and ash stand out in a mix of quietly productive pastures and herb rich flower meadows, in which dairy calves are grazed to achieve top class growth rates and health. Clever management of water and renewable energy add further to sustainability. The diverse oasis of landscape thus provides an outstandingly successful small farm, in which the dedication and enthusiasm of the family can be seen in the excellence of everything. About the other five Finalists for 2018 Nick Galbraith of Batchacre Park Farm in Stafford A 350 acre mixed farm producing lamb and cereals with a break crop of beans. 400 ewes utilise rotational grass and traditional meadows with the last lambs fattened on stubble turnips, giving good soil management and economic returns. Stewardship options are well used on headlands to give protection of water courses and woodland edges, as well as winter bird feed. A small family shoot makes good use of mixed woodlands and several ponds, with interesting flushes encouraged for wetland birds such as snipe and good teal numbers. The canal provides interesting diversification as well as good habitat on its margins, dissecting this parkland landscape. Bill Forse of Barnham Court Farm in West Sussex A well-diversified arable and grass farm on strong brick earth soil. Crisp management of this 400 acres provides good returns from enterprises in addition to the cereal farming. Liveries, let buildings and glamping give value, allowing a good area of land to be dedicated to conservation, including impressive recreation of wet grassland and a plethora of scrapes yielding good habitat for nesting lapwing. All year-round bird food is provided by clever use of stewardship winter feed and fallow options. The historic elements of the landscape, such as the old canal, are sensitively preserved and hedges are retained and well managed. The farm boasts impressive species lists including around 200 bird species, nearly 50 types of bee and 14 wasps. A solar panel array added to the template of this futuristic farmscope. Stephen Tasker of Wheatley Wood Farm in Nottingham Main cropping, polytunnels growing strawberries and raspberries with cereals grown by a contract farmer. Within the farming of the soft fruit there is innovative use of biological pest control, greatly reducing chemical dependency and encouraging the use of wild flower and grass strips for stable populations of beneficial insects, especially pollinators and predators. The farm makes good use of wind breaks and tree planting to hide the polytunnels and improve the landscape for wildlife. The farm’s large labour force is put to good use to deliver excellent hedgerow improvements and tree planting across the whole farm, in an ambitious programme to regenerate woodland. Two wind turbines further deliver future sustainability in this evolving business. Ashton Hawker of Gardners Farm in Wiltshire, A 1200 acre dairy & beef farm, milking 400 cows averaging nearly 8500 litres/cow. Superb woodland tree and hedge management complements highly productive farming on these brash soils to deliver a diverse landscape. Herb rich grassland links well to restored woods and excellent use of Stewardship options delivers further habitats through the forage growing areas including winter bird food options for an impressive flock of over 500 yellow hammers. Outstanding cow management is achieving reductions in antibiotic use, the elimination of wormers and good cow longevity. Roof water collection and solar panels add to sustainability. Attractive ponds have been dug and a classroom for many visitors built in one of the woods. Martin Hammond of Abbey Farm in Norfolk Over 4000 acres of peat fen, 2m below sea level, growing a wide range of high quality salad vegetables with cereal break crops using controlled traffic precision farming. Water is obtained from the River Wissey to fill the network of drains and ditches surrounding each of the fields, underpinning the conservation of the delicate peat soil, which is kept damp at 70cm below the crop enabling the irrigation of the crops to be carried out from underneath, using only 50% of the water of more conventional systems. Ditches and wind breaks harbour rich plant, insect and bird life further enhanced by large reservoirs, where broad scrubby hedges provide homes to nightingales. Well integrated with the local community, the busy farm also has time to support a project to conserve 3000 year old bog oaks as well as continuing innovative research into peat conservation.