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Cast your vote for Arundel farmer in wildlife competition

20 July 2012

Samantha Stokes
Media Officer
E-mail: sam.stokes@rspb.org.uk

An Arundel farmer has made it to the final four in this year’s national RSPB Telegraph Nature of Farming Award – but whether he wins is up to you.

In June, Peter Knight, the Estate Manager for the Norfolk Estate, was selected as the South East’s regional winner for his work which has helped birds and other wildlife thrive on his West Sussex farm.

From more than 350 UK entrants, four farms have now been chosen to face the public vote, of which Peter, and the Norfolk Estate, is one.

Martin Harper, the RSPB’s director of conservation and one of this year’s judges, said: “What really shone though in this application was the level of detail regarding the benefits of management for wildlife.

“Not only were a wide range of wildlife friendly measures being undertaken, but he appears to be a great advocate to landowners, the public and others, and has gone above and beyond the ‘norm’ in his overall ethos and approach.

“Plants, birds, butterflies and other wildlife all appear to have a healthy future on the estate.”

After winning over the judging panel, it’s now the public’s turn to decide who really is the UK’s most wildlife-friendly farmer as voting opens today (Friday 20 July.)

A prize of £1,000 and the title of the UK’s Most Wildlife-friendly Farmer are now up for grabs, but Peter will only win if the residents of Sussex and the south east are behind him.

Peter said: “We were delighted to be selected as the South East Regional winner, but to have reached the final four is a fantastic result for the Norfolk Estate.

“To be recognised in this way is a great honour for all staff on the Estate, and we hope to make Arundel and the South East proud. Fingers crossed, the community will come out to vote, and help put the area on the map as a great place for wildlife.”

The 1240ha arable and sheep farm has been under Peter’s dedicated management for the past 24 years. In that time he has supervised the change from a fully production based system to a commercially managed estate that has conservation at its heart.

The Estate manages over 1000ha of arable farmland, which benefits skylarks, fieldfares, corn buntings, grey partridge, redwings, harvest mice, brown hares, short-tailed voles and a variety of insects, all of which have increased in significant numbers with the implementation of Natural England’s agri-environmental schemes.

Lapwings, barn owls and buzzards are flourishing across the whole Estate and the woodland is home to two rare species of butterfly – the Duke of Burgundy and the Pearl-bordered Fritillary.

Across the Estate Peter, who sees conservation at the core of the commercially viable operation,  has implemented farming systems with conservation management to benefit and complement each other, providing quality food and abundant wildlife through an ethos of ‘more output, less impact’, in other words crops are grown commercially within the field and are surrounded by wildlife friendly margins.

This has achieved great increases in birds, insects, plants and mammals, which is being demonstrated and communicated to a wide range of audiences through walks on the Estate and talks to many different groups.

Through these walks and talks, Peter has shared his knowledge, enthusiasm and passion for wildlife-friendly farming, which he hopes has educated and inspired others to implement practical management options that deliver for wildlife.

Fay Pattinson, agricultural projects officer for the RSPB South East, welcomed the news of Peter’s continuing success. She said: “Day to day, a lot of people may not give much thought to farming but we all stand to benefit from the fantastic wildlife Peter encourages to the area.

“Please take a second to go on-line and vote, and show the rest of the UK just how proud we are of our farmers and the fantastic difference they can make to the world around us.”

You can vote for Peter Knight from now until September 5 by visiting www.rspb.org.uk/farmvote, calling the RSPB on 01767 693680 to request a FREEPOST postal voting form, online via The Telegraph, or at country shows throughout the summer.

Everyone who votes in this year's competition will be entered into a prize draw to win a luxury break for two people at Ragdale Hall worth over £500.

Now in its fifth year, the national competition is run by the RSPB, supported by Butterfly Conservation and Plantlife, and sponsored by The Telegraph.

The EU LIFE+ Programme funds RSPB work which supports wildlife-friendly farming that furthers sustainable development in the European Union.

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