Farmer Focus Arable: Robert Law extends ELS agreement til 2015

The first Entry Level Stewardship Scheme that we joined back in 2005 finishes at the end of July and I have just submitted a new application for an 1 August start.

This will carry us through to mid-2015 and produce a guaranteed income over the next five years. The application was relatively straightforward and we have only had to take another 1ha out of production to meet our points total.

The new greater flexibility surrounding the location and size of field corner management areas, wild bird covers and pollen and nectar plots has helped considerably in amassing the points required.

I endorse what Nick Padwick said in his last Farmer Focus column (p48, 4 June) that the financial and environmental benefits make entry into the ELS a no-brainer. We don’t miss the areas we have taken out of production and it is disappointing to see that so many growers are still are reluctant to sign up.

We have had a farm adviser from the RSPB carry out some farmland bird surveys on the Cereals site over the past weeks and despite many comments I have heard in the past about the “prairies” of south Cambridgeshire, the results have been very encouraging. On his first visit, he had identified 35 species within two hours including eight red and eight amber species on the farmland bird indicator.

I was pleased to get a flyer concerning a collaboration between a large farming company and a large agrochemical distributor encouraging college leavers to consider a career in farm management and agronomy. We hear about the average age of farmers, but we must also realise the position of the supporting trades. I was told that a local branch of a national agrochemical distributor only had three agronomists below the age of 55.

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