Free farm visit initiative welcomed by CLA West MidlandsRural business watchdog, the CLA, has welcomed a new service of one-to-one farm visits to help farmers in Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) get the most out of their ELS agreements.
Existing ELS holders can now request a free on-farm visit from an experienced adviser to discuss the ongoing management of their agreement and how it can best achieve environmental benefits.
Up to 2000 of the new visits are being made available to ELS agreement holders per year, with an additional 4000 places available at group events, including farm walks and workshops.
Natural England is rolling out the appointments to complement the advice service it provides to prospective agreement holders. The visits will provide an opportunity for farmers to discuss practical measures that could be introduced to benefit the environment without impacting on farming operations. Advice will be available on the best places to locate options within the holding, on weed control, seed mixes, establishment measures and trimming of mature hedgerows. Guidance will also be provided on how to implement changes to existing agreements, including alterations to the options that have been selected.
CLA West Midlands regional adviser, Donna Tavernor, said: ''These visits offer farmers a chance to review how their ELS options are working, and will help to pinpoint any changes required in the future management of their options. There is also the opportunity to change existing agreements to include more of the priority options, improve option location and consider how they link together across the farm. As well as helping farm businesses, this will mean greater benefits for wildlife, farmland birds, water and soil protection and the historic environment."
Charles Rudge of White House Farm, Ross-on-Wye said: ''I renewed my ELS agreement just over a year ago and have implemented various options to benefit wildlife on the farm. I will be requesting a follow up farm visit to get some further guidance on how best to manage my field margins and get the most out of the nectar and pollen mix. It will be a valuable chance for me to re-examine my options selection and make the choices that are right for my business.''
An additional area of advice will be to explain how key options within Entry Level Stewardship, such as pollen and nectar mixtures, directly contribute to the objectives of the Campaign for the Farmed Environment (CFE). CFE aims to retain and exceed the environmental benefits that used to be provided by set-aside by using a voluntary approach to avoid regulation, through a number of management options.
To request a farm visit or to find out about planned events please contact Natural England's Farm Events Team 0300 060 1695 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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An experienced rural advisor who advises members on subjects including the environment, fly tipping, forestry, NVZ, stewardship, single farm payment, water framework and planning. Donna is also Midlands lead on the Campaign for the Farmed Environment. A past YFC County chairman, Donna has a Countryside and Environment Management degree, a Masters in Land Management - and owns sheep.
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