18th January 2016
Successful stewardship workshop held at new demonstration site
Growers and advisors came together to discuss stewardship challenges and opportunities at a recent Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) workshop at the Royal Agricultural University’s Rural Innovation Centre at Harnhill Manor Farm, near Cirencester.
Held on 17th December in conjunction with Natural England and Kings, 40 growers contributed to a valuable forum on stewardship schemes, including the latest HLS management guidance and how to achieve the best outcome for the business as well as for farmland wildlife.
“Events are held regularly in the area to support farmers and landowners with their HLS agreements as understanding the requirements and managing any difficulties that arise can be tricky,” says Kings manager Richard Barnes. “The events are always well received by growers; it’s useful to get together to look at the options, to share experiences and talk about how to get the best results.”
The new Countryside Stewardship scheme was also a key talking point on the day, with growers keen to learn about the financial and advisory support available and how to make the transition between schemes.
As well as indoor presentations, the event included a visit to the RAU’s HLS demonstration field, which prompted discussion around feature management and how to optimise the longevity of pollen and nectar mixtures in particular. The site was developed in 2015 as a collaborative project between the RAU, Kings and Natural England.
“This is an excellent site to demonstrate the differing seed mixes appropriate for use in the Higher Level Stewardship and new Countryside Stewardship schemes,” says Will Manley, principal lecturer in land and environmental management at the RAU. “Importantly, it will also demonstrate the different cost effective management options applicable to their ongoing maintenance.”
The event also provided the opportunity for local growers to wish Neil Harris well in his new technical advisory role with Kings after 15 years as a Natural England advisor. Neil was presented with a framed grey partridge print in recognition of his work over the years.
“Neil's knowledge in the field is encyclopaedic and his passion and enthusiasm for all things wild has woken a latent appreciation in us land managers” says local grower Charles Mann. “We’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with him and really appreciate the results that his quiet and pragmatic approach have achieved in bringing the land alive.”
Richard adds, “We’re delighted that Neil is joining the Kings team. With his wealth of experience and local knowledge, growers will continue to find his expert input invaluable in boosting their businesses and the fortunes of farmland wildlife.”
More events will be held at the site in 2016; check Kings’ events page for the latest information.