A huge thank you must go to all involved in helping me get into the HLS scheme.

We started with the policy of trying to preserve and enhance the farm’s natural features. We signed up at the start of February and we have already begun achieving some of our goals.

Recreating flower-rich downland grassland is high priority, and we have some fencing completed to allow selective grazing in spring and summer. The consistency of the Kiwi fencing team is first class. What a pity their rugby team isn’t.

Other HLS projects will be low input spring barley with conservation headlands. This should help the farmland bird population with a winter source of food.

Another bird survey will be undertaken this spring to help gauge future population trends. I hope this will show that what we are doing will enable the scheme to continue beyond the initial 10-year period.

With all these environmental schemes helping to maintain and enhance the South Downs, let’s hope the government sees sense and abandons the idea of creating a national park.

There is nothing wrong with the area at the moment, and I feel that there would be more red tape to deal with and, more importantly, not enough farmer representation on the proposed board.

We have started spring barley drilling and seed-beds have been good. Germination has been slow due to night frosts, and a few fields have had the pleasure of visiting crows intent on scratching out the seed.

The price of diesel has reached over 50p/litre. In my first column I wondered if it would reach that price by silage-making time, but it now seems I was way out.

I am afraid that the days of letting the turbo cool down on tractors are gone. Turn it off.