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23 May 2008
Patrick Bowden-Smith demonstrates a great ability to farm commercially, with the environment at the heart of his business decisions.
Patrick's work on his 185 ha, mixed farm in East Fife, has clearly taken him a couple of steps beyond the measures required in agri-environment. He has used his own ideas and experience as a hydrologist to improve the environment and his farming systems.
Because of this background, some of the most impressive achievements involve managing water and extensive work on watercourses and wetlands have enabled sea trout to return to the Dunino Burn to spawn - a significant success with sea trout spawning here three years ago for the first time in at least 60 years.
Up to a dozen pairs of grey partridges currently call the farm 'home'
This has been achieved by constructing fish ladders and removing impediments to upstream movement. Hydrological control also allows him to create artificial spate conditions, in late summer when water levels are low, preventing fish being trapped in ponds where they are vulnerable.
Bird studies have been a feature on the farm for many years and local bird ringers use the farm for a Constant Effort Site (one of the oldest in Scotland) and cannon-netting of wintering waders and wildfowl. Three pairs of barn owls all use 'natural' sites although various boxes are also in place to encourage their further expansion.
Up to a dozen pairs of grey partridges currently call the farm 'home' with extensive field margins and bird-friendly (wide-mesh) fencing always used when replacing fences. There is a great range of bird-friendly management appropriate to the farm and the surrounding area such as well-sited wild bird cover, grass margins, hedgerow/farm woodland management and planting.
Patrick uses his own seed mixes for wild bird cover areas and has been working with a seed company to promote this mix.