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Tim Scott

Lark Rise adopts low-drift policy

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Lark Rise Tenant Farmer, Tim Scott, was featured in this week’s edition of Farmer’s Weekly due to the innovative method he has adopted when spraying his crops.

Lark Rise is the CRT’s flagship wildlife-friendly farm, which Tim manages using environmentally sympathetic methods whilst looking to retain a high yield. Ensuring the sprays he uses are hitting the required targets is an integral part of his management plan.

Tim has trialled various nozzles  to ensure that his technique for applying crop protection products is as bullet proof as possible. Following an autumn of poor blackgrass control, Tim moved away from an Amistar nozzle providing a water rate of 100 litres/ha to a 3D nozzle which improved performance, but increased drift due to the flat fan type nozzle. Many standard nozzles provide a mist made up of fine droplets, which is excellent for pest control on the required crops, but does drift a substantial amount. This is obviously not good for grass margins and the surrounding areas.

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Pierrepont development

Pierrepont Project

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Pierrepont is a 200 acre heathland farm near Frensham in rural Surrey, approximately one hour from central London. At its heart is a working dairy farm and an extraordinary collection of historic Grade II listed farm buildings, surrounded by idyllic countryside and wonderful wildlife.

The farm was kindly gifted to the Countryside Restoration Trust in 2006 by Jo Baker. The Trust are undertaking an extensive programme of restoration to the buildings whilst conserving the meadows, farmland and woodland areas.

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Lark Rise Discovery Day

Discovering Lark Rise

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On Friday 4th August the CRT opened the gates to our Flagship Farm, Lark Rise and invited Friends, families, volunteers and anybody wanting to embrace the outdoors to come along and discover the very essence of the British countryside on our wildlife-friendly farm.

After a damp and windy run up to the event, staff and volunteers managed to secure the marquees and gazebos which had gone airborne and try to ensure the car park didn’t turn in to a quagmire! Thankfully, once the tireless gusts had finished their assault on our tents, they worked in our favour, sweeping the bad weather away and drying the ground underfoot.

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Tim Scott South Cambs Environmental Champion

Tim Scott appointed Environmental Champion

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The Countryside Restoration Trust (CRT) is pleased to announce that Tim Scott, tenant farmer on our flagship farm, Lark Rise, has been appointed as Environmental Champion for South Cambs.

 

Tim has worked with the CRT for the past 24 years and has been integral in transforming Lark Rise Farm from an intensively farmed wildlife desert into a productive 400 acre arable farm which now teems with wildlife. This has been achieved using sympathetic farming methods such as crop rotations, leaving over-wintering stubble, beetle banks, wildlife strips and creating smaller fields by planting over 4.5 miles of new hedgerows. Tim’s understanding of the relationship between farming and wildlife was recognised when he was awarded the prestigious GWCT Grey Partridge East Anglian Trophy in 2015, for his efforts in fighting the decline of the iconic farmland bird. He was also recognised in 2016 by the Redlist Revival and received an award for being in the top 10% for the Range of Priority Farmland Birds within the Redlist Benchmark.

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Pierrepont Herd

Speaking up for the cows

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Chairman’s Blog – by Robin Page

 

“Humane Milk is a Myth Don’t buy it. I went vegan the day I visited a dairy. The mothers, still bloody from birth, searched and called frantically for their babies……” so read a Vegan inspired full-page advert in The Times recently with no mention of who the “I” actually was.

My irritation was triggered because I was born on a farm with a small dairy herd (where I still live). The advert presented a scene that was unfamiliar to me. My first memories of the farm are of my father sitting on a three-legged stool, milking by hand. My last recent memory of milking was at The Countryside Restoration Trust’s brilliant Jersey herd at Pierrepont Farm in Surrey where the milking was being performed by two robots, guided by lasers – incredible – my father would have been astonished – as I was. A third robot is due to start next week.

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Volunteers Planting

The CRT, D-of-E & Me

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Guest blog by Josh Carter – Duke of Edinburgh volunteer at Lark Rise Farm

Working at Lark Rise Farm really has been a pleasure.

Whether it’s cutting back hedges, picking twigs off the ground, lighting a fire or planting trees, I’ve always found it more exciting than working indoors. I also helped with two early morning bird surveys here (but that is part of my Skills section). During my three Voluntary sessions (four hours once per month = one hour per week), we’ve been working primarily on the wildlife garden beside the new Headquarters.

On the first session, I helped start a fire and put dead wood on it. Four of us went on a short walk to the feeding station and put birdseed on the ground, as well as in a cage that only songbirds can get through (or the pigeons and pheasants would eat it all). For the rest of the day, I planted three different species of tree; hawthorn, blackthorn and wayfaring tree – in a line that would soon become a wildlife-rich hedgerow. My gardening skills definitely improved that day!

On the second session, I was joined by my friend Tom. We pulled up the non-native Spanish Bluebells in the wildlife garden to make room for other plants. I then threw some dead wood on a fire, sawed up part of a dead tree and learned how to use a billhook to cut wood. One other member of the group found a Blackbird nest in a nearby bush and I watched the chicks being ringed a few days later (not part of a session).

On the third and final session, we burned lots of dead wood- it is important that we do it this regularly because otherwise it would absolutely cover the ground. We sawed up lots of big logs. There were only six of us but we got a significant amount done- roasted marshmallows was the reward! The session stopped an hour early (I am writing this to make up for the hour missed).

The great thing about doing this kind of work is that every time you plant a tree, sprinkle birdseed on the ground or even pull up non-native weeds, you feel like you’re helping nature just that little bit; like you’re making the world a slightly better place and giving something back to the wildlife.

The CRT currently works with the Duke of Edinburgh programme at Lark Rise farm in Cambridgeshire, but we have yet to roll this out to our other properties. If you would like further information regarding volunteering through the DoE programme please email Kenny MacKay or call the office on 01223 262999.

For all general volunteering enquiries, please click here.

Green Farm Fire

Fire Damage at Green Farm

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Fire crews were called to woodland at CRT’s Green Farm, Churt, Surrey, on the evening of Sunday 9th July, as a fire tore through 0.2 hectares of wood and heathland. They were able to bring the fire under control.

An investigation by Surrey Fire & Rescue Service is now underway to understand how the fire started. At this stage it is difficult to comment on the cause, but we speculate that it could have been due to a cigarette or discarded glass, which acts like a magnifying glass, catching fire when someone drops it or discards it on the forest floor.
 
The Countryside Restoration Trust (CRT) would like to warn people that due to the particularly prolonged period of dry and hot weather, with limited rainfall over the last few months, the woodland is unnaturally dry at the moment.
 
Whilst the CRT have a woodland management plan in place, we need to look at more inclusive and integrated whole-site fire prevention approaches and we will be working closely with Surrey Fire and Rescue Service to safeguard the site for the future.
It is particularly important that people are aware that barbecues and fires being started at the woodlands at Green Farm are expressly prohibited.  Following recent occurrences of fly tipping we are asking neighbours and the local community to remain vigilant and to report any issues or suspicious activity to the local police.
 
Please contact the Countryside Restoration Trust head office on 01223 262999 for any further information

The Hedge Cutting Debate: Less Cutting More Management

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There are rules on when to cut a hedge. Hedge cutting is legally banned in the UK from 1st March to 31st August, in order to protect nesting birds on farms. In 2016, Defra made the decision to extend the hedge cutting ban to include the month of August.

This was based on analysis of bird nesting records provided by volunteers to the British Ornithology Trust. They identified buntings, Bullfinches and Linnets as likely to be active in nests until the end of August. In a call to repeal the August ban, a campaign supported by Farmers Weekly, the NFU and the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), is questioning the “evidence” used to justify the non-cutting period.

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Soil magic

Muddy Up #5: Soil Magic

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By Teresa Linford

Whilst doing some research about children and mud, I came across this quote from Buddhist teachings, “If you truly get in touch with a piece of carrot, you get in touch with the soil, the rain, the sunshine. You get in touch with Mother Earth.1

I love this. It immediately brought to mind the local school group who have been helping to develop our educational garden at Mayfields in Norfolk. They have enjoyed drawing designs, building a keyhole garden, learning about herbs, planning which vegetables to plant but I think above all they have loved getting physically in touch with the soil. When preparing and digging over the raised beds, many of the children seemed to gain an immense sense of satisfaction and absorption by simply working the earth, turning it over and feeling it between their fingers; gardening gloves often abandoned on the grass. (Health and Safety not overlooked, I hasten to add!)

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The Humble Earthworm

Muddy Up #4: The Humble Earthworm

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By Annika Rice

Earthworms are probably one of the most underrated animals on this planet, and yet one of the most important.

People must have been aware, probably since the dawn of agriculture, of the beneficial effects of earthworms on the soil, but Charles Darwin was the first to study the activity of earthworms in a systematic way and to observe in detail the conversion of dead plant material by worms into soil organic matter (1).

In the UK there are 27 species of worms (2) that utilise different habitats and food preferences. Some species live on the surface of the soil and amongst the leaf litter, others live in burrows under the ground and some prefer a good compost heap! Some species will be a common sight in your garden, while others prefer woodland habitats.

Whatever their lifestyle choices and habits are, earthworms do a vital job. Often known as ‘ecosystem engineers’, or as Charles Darwin called them ‘nature’s plough’s’, the humble worm engineers the soil to allow ecosystems to thrive all over the world (1).

Firstly, the burrows used by many species allow air and water to penetrate into the soil. One species lives in a single vertical burrow of up to 3m deep. Their movement through the soil also helps to mix organic matter into the various layers of soil (2).

Secondly, Earthworms feed on dead, decaying organic matter ranging from leaf litter in a woodland to your vegetable scraps in your garden compost heap. They decompose this organic matter and release nutrients back into the soil for living plants to use.

Thirdly, the worms will often drag dead organic matter into their burrows underground. They will break the organic matter into smaller pieces which will then be broken down further by bacteria and fungi in the soil. The presence of worms increases the bacteria and fungi in the soil, which increases the amount of nutrients being released into the soil. (2)

So worms are triply important to farming – as well as aerating the soil and incorporating dead plant material into the soil organic matter, they also help to maintain or improve soil structure that supports plant and crop growth. Across all our farms at Countryside Restoration Trust we do everything we can to support healthy earthworm populations including ‘reduced tillage’, which means we try to leave the soil as undisturbed as possible. There’s lots we can do and we hope that you will join us in helping to look after the humble earthworm.

References

  1. Darwin, C. 1881. The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms with Observations in their Habits. Murray, London.
  2. earthwormsoc.org.uk

To promote #MuddyUpBritain over the next few weeks and in the lead up to International Mud Day on 29th June 2017, the CRT will be publishing a series of blog articles to inform and inspire you. If you’re stuck for something to do there will also be various school and family events led by our education team, so please follow us on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest news.

Make your own Wormery by downloading our instructions below!

Simple Wormery
Advanced Wormery