Name: Marion Regan, Hugh Lowe Farms
Farm: Soft fruit and arable
Size: 700 ha
120 ha strawberries and 55 ha raspberries grown for major multiple retailers, 3 ha glasshouses, 430 ha of combinable crops. Soils at Mereworth vary from easily worked well drained sandy loams on south facing slopes on the Greensand, running down to heavier loams on the Weald. There is some clay with flints over chalk where we farm at Swanley.
What environmental management do you already undertake on your farm?
The non-cropped area of about 100 ha consists mainly of low input grassland and field margins and is mostly outside formal schemes, although there is currently an Environmental Stewardship (ELS) with some wildlife areas such as nectar flower mix.
How will you be/are you taking part in the Campaign?
We will be in ELS until 2017, from then on we will continue with voluntary options e.g. low input grass, nectar flower mixes, wild bird seed mixes, hedges and field margins.
Will you be using an adviser?
FWAG, LEAF (LEAF Marque audited), RSPB. Members of Kent Wildlife Trust, Butterfly Conservation Trust, Bumblebee Conservation Trust.
What are the benefits of taking part in the Campaign?
We get support and advice and the benefits of voluntary measures without the bureaucracy of schemes. We prefer to have the flexibility of the voluntary approach and even if this isn’t being funded by any scheme, most of the time we will be doing the same thing, but we can adapt what we do to fit with the farm system.
How does undertaking voluntary management fit in with your farming business?
Headlands left round fruit producing areas stay in grass when the land goes into arable. This helps encourage beneficial insects and pollinators. We have a large number of people working on the farm and the environmental areas we provide makes for a pleasant working environment. It also enhances the landscape and this fits with our landscaping strategy for polytunnels. With voluntary management we retain flexibility and we can take a farming decision with all the information at our disposal.
What is driving you to take part in the Campaign?
I want to encourage biodiversity on the farm.