A Welcome to Wildlife At Crichton Thanks to SAC and RSPB Scotland
31 July 2012
Media and Communications Officer
SAC and RSPB Scotland have announced an official partnership aimed at making SAC’s Crichton Royal Dairy Research Farm in Dumfries an exemplar for wildlife-friendly dairy farming. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will be signed on 2 August 2012 setting out how the organisations will work together to increase wildlife on the farm, through focussing on groups such as birds, butterflies and wildflowers. The partners will work together to develop and demonstrate simple and cost-effective methods of boosting wildlife on the farm. The aim is to demonstrate measures that do not have an effect on a farm’s bottom line, and to encourage other pastoral farms to adopt the measures shown to be successful at Crichton. Farmers will be able to pick up new ideas during regular ‘knowledge exchange’ events held at the farm. RSPB Scotland and SAC have been working together at Crichton for 10 years. The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding - formalises and strengthens this partnership. The farm is a LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) Innovation Centre and the partners’ work ties in with the LEAF aim of helping farmers work to high environmental standards.
SAC’s Dr Dave Roberts, Head of Dairy Research, said: “I am very pleased that we are building on our 10 years of very successful work with RSPB Scotland at Crichton. The focus of our renewed partnership will be on looking at how we can make relatively small changes to farm management practices which have a big effect on bird species and other wildlife.”
Stuart Housden, Director of RSPB Scotland said: “Scotland’s farms are home to a wide variety of stunning wildlife, sadly some of these species such as kestrel, lapwing and yellowhammer, are in need of urgent help. By working closely with SAC we hope to develop simple low cost solutions that dairy farmers and other producers can then apply on their land, reversing the fortunes of declining birds, butterflies and other species in the wider countryside.”
Since SAC and RSPB Scotland began their joint work at Crichton there has been an increase in the number of birds making the farm their home. Action to date has included bird species recording through the RSPB’s Volunteer & Farmer Alliance project and the delivery of on-farm advice from RSPB staff. This has resulted in improvements to hedgerow management, the sowing of specific crops to attract over wintering birds and the installation of nest boxes for Tree Sparrows, a species whose population is under threat. The new programme will build on these ideas and trial new techniques to help wildlife.
SAC’s Dairy Research Centre extends to 300 ha with approximately 500 dairy cows plus young stock. The Centre is typical of many lowland dairy farms with a range of grassland habitats from intensively managed ryegrass leys to less intensive meadows and arable crops (maize, Lucerne, spring beans and cereals). The Centre, which is a LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) Innovation site, has between 3,000 and 8,000 visitors/year, depending on which events are held in specific years. The farm has been undertaking agri-environment measures under both the Rural Stewardship Scheme (RSS) and Scotland Rural Development Programme (SRDP).