Name: Nick Rowsell
Farm: Crux Easton
Size: 280 ha
The farm is an all arable farm growing winter oil seed rape, winter oats, winter rye and spring barley. The rye and oats are grown under contract for Conservation Grade cereals. The soil type is clay cap with flints and rises to a height of 900 feet above sea level.
What environmental management do you already undertake on your farm?
The farm was in the old Countryside Stewardship Scheme but has now entered the Entry level and Higher Level Schemes and creates wild bird seed mixtures, pollen and nectar, lapwing plots, field corners, overwintered stubbles, grass margins including some that have been floristically enhanced, arable reversion to chalk grassland and low input grassland.
How will you be/are you taking part in the Campaign?
I have just renewed my ELS scheme and have chosen many of the ‘in field’ options. I am also CFE chairman for Hampshire and have offered this farm as a Beacon Farm to help spread the word across the county
Will you be using an adviser?
Yes, I take advice from our local FWAG, who helped me put together my Stewardship applications. I consult with a local wild flower specialist, and take advice from both Natural England and the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust.
What are the benefits of taking part in the Campaign?
I see one of the big advantages of taking part in the Campaign is to do things voluntarily across the farm, rather than having it forced upon me. I see this as an opportunity for our industry to show that we can look after the environment as well as producing food and to do more than is just the statutory requirement.
How does undertaking voluntary management fit in with your farming business?
Making the most efficient use of land is a key aspect of profitable farming, so by taking out awkward areas that are difficult to farm with large modern machinery and placing them in an ELS options makes a great deal of sense. A number of options, such as the wild bird seed mixes also dove-tail in well with the shoot that I run on the farm. A number of areas of pheasant cover that were just maize have been converted into wild bird seed mixes – helping towards the campaign – a simple thing that most farmers could also do!
What is driving you to take part in the Campaign?
I see this as our choice – we can either embrace this opportunity to voluntarily manage our soil & water, farmland birds and wildlife and get paid to do so – or we can have compulsory setaside, most probably with ‘attitude’, forced upon us once more. It did not take me long to make the decision to support the campaign!