The RSPB is looking for farmers in the Yorkshire Wolds and Coast area who are interested in getting paid to help wildlife thrive on their land.
Applications are now open for the third year of the government's wildlife-friendly farming initiative Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS), which rewards farmers and other land managers for giving nature a home.
The decision to leave the European Union means that the future of the agricultural funding system will be shrouded in uncertainty for the next few years. However, farmers who sign up to CSS will have a guaranteed income for five years.
The Yorkshire Wolds and Coast is an excellent area for nature and has huge potential to help boost declining farmland birds, as well as other wildlife from butterflies and bees to hares and hedgehogs.
The RSPB's Conservation Advisor Chris Tomson is offering free advice to any farmer in the area who is considering signing up for Countryside Stewardship. He has over 17 years of experience helping farmers make successful applications for wildlife-friendly farming initiatives.
He says: "By visiting a farm, I can work out the best ways for a farmer to provide for wildlife on their land without affecting the efficiency and profitability of their business. I can help complete the application forms and, if it's successful, I will then work with the farmer to help implement the scheme.
"In addition, we can arrange for our expert volunteers to survey the farm and provide a stock take of all of the birds that are present on the land. By repeating this survey in three years time we will be able to see what effect the wildlife-friendly conservation measures are having on the land."
Since the Countryside Stewardship Scheme opened in 2015, Chris has helped a number of farmers enter the scheme.
Gordon Hawcroft and his wife Jill grow cereals and oil seed rape at the 425 acre Lodge Farm at Holme on Spalding Moor. He said: "Chris's wide experience helped us navigate our way through the Countryside Stewardship Scheme application in a relatively pain free way. In the process I we feel we have designed a very good scheme, which is good for wildlife on the farm but also good for me as a farmer. I cannot imagine farming without a countryside stewardship agreement; conservation should be an integral part of modern agriculture. I have also found the staff at Natural England to be very helpful and knowledgeable"
The application window for Countryside Stewardship Scheme is now open until 30 September 2017 with agreements beginning in January 2018. It is, therefore, worth investing time in evaluating a potential application now.
Farmers interested in chatting to Chris about providing for wildlife or applying for CSS on their land can call him on 07900 164 601 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.