Name: Jonathon Stacey
Farm: Church Lane Farm, Bramley Road, Silchester, Reading
Size: 280 ha
I have been farm manager here for 23 years, growing Winter Wheat, Winter Oilseed Rape, Spring Linseed and Spring Beans on mainly gravel soils with some silty loam. I also run a herd of 40 pedigree Limousin cattle and 100 Suffolk cross Mules.
What environmental management do you already undertake on your farm?
I am three years into an ELS / HLS agreement, having previously been in the old Countryside Stewardship scheme. We have twenty acres of lovely water meadows which are in the "low input" option and are grazed by our sheep, which keeps it in good heart. I also cut hedges on rotation, have grass margins, field corner management, wild life seed mixes, pollen and nectar mixes, skylark plots and I also have a Scheduled Monument site on the farm.
How will you be/are you taking part in the Campaign?
I have volunteered to become a CFE Beacon Farm as I feel strongly that other farmers should get to see and learn about environmental stewardship. I have an area that was arable land and is now wet grassland called the ‘Spint’, which I put into setaside when it first came out. This area still remains out of production, but is not in any stewardship scheme – a little extra to help the campaign.
Will you be using an adviser?
Apart from my agronomist, I use Alison Cross from the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust who has been a tremendous help.
What are the benefits of taking part in the Campaign?
Putting the water meadows into stewardship has brought me an income from this area and helps me to maintain them in good order. We have a lot of streams and ditches on the farm and by buffering all of these with grass margins, helps me enormously with LERAP legislation etc. We have a number of awkward corners and also a row of pylons that run across the farm, which leaves me with small, difficult areas. All of these now are in Pollen & Nectar or field corner management, which is a great help.
How does undertaking voluntary management fit in with your farming business?
It fits in very well because having taken the non profitable areas out of production as mentioned above, I can now concentrate on growing crops on the better land. This has also enabled me to create some really good habitats on the farm which has resulted in an increase in all sorts of wildlife such as hares and farmland birds.
What is driving you to take part in the Campaign?
I think as farmers we have a ‘duty of care’ to one day leave the land we farm in a better condition than which we inherited. I do not farm organically, but I am very careful with the inputs I use on the farm – a half way house you could say, as I believe the environment is very important. Voluntarily choosing the range of habitats that I place around the farm with help of Alison Cross, means that I can maximise the benefits to both the farm and wildlife and I believe that this is the way forward – not through compulsory setaside.