THE NEW agri-environment Entry Level Scheme will not be too taxing for farmers to get into, according to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Speaking at The Royal Show on Monday (July 5), RSPB‘s director of conservation Mark Avery said that farmers can help farmland bird populations to recover without compromising their businesses.

Dr Avery told the audience that RSPB‘s experience from running Hope Farm in Cambridgeshire over the last five years should be encouraging for farmers worried that standards for the new agri-environment schemes are set too high.

Through what Dr Avery described as “positive but simple management” – leaving some skylark patches, trimming hedges every third year instead of every year – the RSPB had seen increases in skylarks, starlings, linnets and other birds on the farm.

“This tells us that it shouldn‘t be too difficult to meet the standards set for the Entry Level Scheme.

“By signing up, farmers can quite easily make a profit and help increase bird numbers without reducing yields,” Dr Avery said.

“The forthcoming Entry and Higher Level Schemes mean that every hectare of the farm, both around field edges and within the fields themselves, can make a contribution to the farm business.”