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Welcome to this group for all farmers and anyone with an interest in farming. Read our blog to see how we're working with farmers and to find out where you can meet us at events.
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  • Blog Post: Flower power

    Any flower-rich habitats on the farm will look at their best over the next few months, both in terms of the spectacle of the flowers themselves and the associated insects, including butterflies and bumblebees, which rely on them. Peter Thompson (Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust) told me that any...
  • Blog Post: The end of the beginning, or the beginning of the end?

    Harvest is in! Yesterday saw the final crop harvested here at Hope Farm with our field beans combined on a glorious Cambridgeshire evening. The completion of harvest is a time to celebrate, especially when it has been taken in dry as this year. This means there are no additional drying costs prior...
  • Blog Post: Weathering the weather

    By Derek Gruar, Senior Researcher, Hope Farm One of the core tasks here at Hope Farm is monitoring the numbers of birds that are actually using the farm. In summer this requires walking the farm boundaries and recording birds that are seen and heard onto maps. Compared to winter this is straight...
  • Blog Post: The Hope Farm Bird Indicator has gone up by 211% - what does that mean?

    It has been another fantastic summer for birds at Hope Farm, our arable farm in Cambridgeshire, with the Farmland Bird Indicator going up again, albeit slightly since 2010. The index is now 211% above what it was when the RSPB took over the farm in 2000. This is huge when you consider that the national...
  • Blog Post: Barn owls fledge, more than a partridge in a pear tree and a visitor from the east

    It’s been a fine autumn here on Hope Farm, with some excellent sunny early autumn days, crops have been harvested and next year's are sown and already growing. One of the great things in being associated with the farm is that we often have plenty of positive stories to report, and this blog...
  • Blog Post: Hope Farm: Twelve years of hard work, learning and great success

    2012 is a truly auspicious year in Britain, with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and a certain sporting event that cannot be named for legal reasons. But it is also an auspicious year in the sleepy Cambridgeshire hamlet of Knapwell, home to Hope Farm , the RSPB’s 180 hectare arable farm. Changing...
  • Blog Post: Creating space for a battling midfielder

    Back in the Wilkinson years, before Batty turned England Captain, before Kamara turned Sky pundit, and before Eric turned Red, I was a Leeds fan. Me and Dad had season tickets in the East Stand and never missed a home game. Eventually the endless 0-0 draws under George Graham put me off football altogether...
  • Blog Post: A difficult cropping year at Hope Farm

    The weather dictates everything in farming whether you are an arable or livestock farmer. For us as an arable farm cultivations, spraying operations and harvesting are all at the mercy of the weather. Crop growth is also very much affected by the weather. © Andy Hay, RSPB Images When wheat...
  • Blog Post: A practical guide to helping farmland wildlife....by farmers

    Have you ever meet someone for the first time and just start talking as if you have known them for years? At a party, social evening or down on the farm? That is what exactly happened when I met Charlie Moores of Talking Naturally down on a farm in the Cambridgeshire Fens, when I was fortunate enough...
  • Blog Post: RSPB at the Oxford Farming Conference

    Blog post by: Richard Winspear, Senior Agriculture Advisor RSPB I had a great couple of days at the Oxford Farming Conference. We hosted a breakfast fringe meeting to celebrate the winners of the Nature of Farming Awards 2011 and launched the first Farmland Bird Friendly Zone. Martin Harper, our new...
  • Blog Post: Barn Owls return to breed at Hope Farm

    By Derek Gruar, RSPB Conservation Science, Hope Farm All inspections and ringing of nesting barn owls on the farm are covered by a Natural England S1 Disturbance Licence. For only the second time in the eleven years since RSPB became the owners of Hope Farm, we are pleased to be the custodians...
  • Blog Post: Showing MEPs how farming and nature conservation can go hand in hand

    Over the summer months, the RSPB has met with many MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) to discuss topics as varied as seabird by-catch from fishing fleets to biodiversity in the UK’s overseas territories. For two MEPs in July, the focus of our meetings was to demonstrate how farming and...
  • Blog Post: Out with the Auld in with the New

    Since RSPB acquired Hope Farm in 1999 there have been three farm managers: Roger Buisson, Darren Moorcroft and Chris Bailey. With Chris having migrated north to join our RSPB Scotland team as Head of Advisory, I have become the fourth farm manager. This, however, is not my first stint working at the...
  • Blog Post: Cornish Dumplings Sir, or do you prefer Biscuits?

    By Ian Dillon, Hope Farm Manager As we enter the autumn it is time to reflect on the harvest and breeding season at Hope Farm. Farming is always a challenging business. Not enough rain, too much rain, too cold, crop damage from woodpigeons or rabbits, cost of fertiliser – the list of...
  • Blog Post: Has the drought ended at Hope Farm?

    Following 18 months of drought conditions, we have had the wettest April since we bought the farm. This has been welcome news for our crops, which are looking much better for it, and for the environmental features we established last autumn: wild bird seed mixtures to feed our birds this winter and pollen...
  • Blog Post: Ploughman's Pickle

    By Niki Williamson, Fenland Farmland Bird Adviser We like overwintered stubble in the Fens. It helps prevent the notorious ‘fen blow’, a terrifying local weather phenomenon, where dark clouds of loose peat blast across the countryside like black sandstorms, making it look like the end...
  • Blog Post: Hope Farm Yields: crops and birds

    August is really the end of the farming year as the final crops are harvested, here at least, and also marks the end of the breeding season. So it seems a good time to do a round-up of how our harvest went and how our breeding birds fared. Both the crops and the wildlife on the farm are heavily influenced...
  • Blog Post: My Hope Farm diary

    This week sees the end of my brief term acting as Hope Farm Manager. I have been overseeing operations since Chris Bailey left in June. It has been great to have more direct involvement in the running of the farm, but the really interesting stuff is just underway. The oilseed rape was harvested on 29...
  • Blog Post: Lapwings breeding at Hope Farm

    Lapwings, along with skylarks, are iconic farmland birds, easily recognised by anyone. The lapwings’ calls, as they swoop over the fields displaying, is one of the first signs that spring has arrived and winter has broken. Once a common breeding bird across most of Britain, numbers have declined...
  • Blog Post: All I needed was the rain...

    The exceptionally dry conditions in eastern England have continued through harvest and crop establishment. This has made crop management easier in some ways but much more difficult in others. Easier in that all our crops were harvested dry thereby avoiding additional drying costs, more difficult in that...
  • Blog Post: Mixed fortunes at Hope Farm

    Harvest at Hope Farm finished at the end of August, and ran smoothly in comparison to last year. Yields were variable though with oilseed rape and peas producing average yields, as did the first wheat. Our spring wheat yielded well above expectation, balanced by our second wheat which was exceptionally...
  • Blog Post: Getting ready for the neonics ban at Hope Farm, and lessons so far

    The much-debated restrictions on neonicotinoid seed treatments will begin this December. The RSPB supports the ban but shares the concern expressed by many that farmers may resort to using greater amounts of other pesticides. Like farmers across the country we at Hope Farm are reviewing our pest management...
  • Blog Post: A Partridge in an Oil Field

    To be honest I’m not known for my love of Christmas carols, but at our department Christmas lunch and get together, the team that I work in gave a slightly different rendition of the Twelve Days of Christmas with each day related to our work areas. This included providing swifts with nest holes...
  • Blog Post: Hope Farm inspiring and helping conservationists across Europe

    Since RSPB bought and started managing Hope Farm in 2000 we have hosted a wide range of visitors, from groups of farmers, industry representatives, government officials, MPs and Ministers. All have come to see how we have successfully halted and reversed the declines of farmland birds and farmland wildlife...
  • Blog Post: Hope Farm: 2014 has been so much better

    The last two years have been very challenging at Hope Farm with lower numbers of breeding birds than our high point in 2011, and disappointing crop yields. The summer of 2012 will long be etched in many of our memories with the incessant rain after a prolonged drought, which had a considerable impact...