24 October 1997

Make conservation a winning formula

By Jonathan Riley

CONSERVATION and commercial farming can be linked within one successful business, according to ICIs Richard Martin.

He told visitors to this years winner of the Nitram Award for Best Fertiliser Practice – JSR Farmings, Givendale Farms, Pocklington, Yorks – that consumers and retailers needed to see commercial farmers taking a responsible attitude towards conservation and production.

Managed by enthusiastic conservationist and successful cattle breeder and finisher Richard Fuller, Givendales comprehensive fertiliser management programme was singled out by judges for special mention.

This integrates artificial fertiliser and FYM with careful monitoring on the farms 393ha (970 acres) of thin chalk wolds.

"Watercourses are monitored every year and soil analysis is carried out in each field once every three years," said Mr Martin.

"This agrees with our recommendations of matching fertiliser applications with soil indices and monitoring a third of the farm every year."

First prize in the competition, also supported by FW, FWAG and the NFU, was £3500 to be spent on a conservation project drawn up by FWAG. Mr Fuller plans to spend this on improving and creating 1600m (1744yds) of hedgerows.

The first stage will be to spray out existing vegetation next spring and summer, before rotovating larger gaps in the hedge during autumn by planting in November.

The prize money will complement payments available for establishing and maintaining hedgerows.

"Conservation and practical farming can operate together commercially, making use of grants available within the countryside stewardship scheme," said Mr Fuller. "Under the scheme we are paid £50/ha a year to reduce stocking rate to two ewes an acre on stewardship land. Payments of £650/ha are also available to set up and manage hedgerows."

Strategic use of artificial fertiliser was also applauded by the judges.

"Grassland receives fertiliser according to soil indices. This year that meant small applications of N in early March, two bags of 17:17:17 before early harvest and a further bag off N spread according to grass growth in late summer early September," said Mr Fuller.

"This has allowed us to extend grazing for the lambs into the winter and has produced growth rates of 1.4kg for suckling calves at grass," he said.

To enter next years Nitram award turn to p63.n

Prize money will be used to plant a further 1600m (1744yds) of hedgerow at Givendale Farms.

Richard Fuller, winner of the Nitram Award, explains how conservation projects complement the commercial enterprises at Givendale Farms, Yorks.