Close up of wheat

Henry Edmunds

Henry Edmunds

Witnessing the excesses of post-war agriculture management made Henry wish to farm in a way which worked with nature rather than against it.

Agri-environment schemes allowed Henry to restore poor quality arable land to chalk downland on his farm in Wiltshire.

Seeing the dramatic improvement in bird populations and wandering through flower-rich pastures buzzing with invertebrates convinced him of the importance of habitat restoration. This further prompted him to turn the whole operation into an organic enterprise and today he milks more than 300 cows and has beef cattle and a sheep flock.

He believes the health of the animals has vastly improved since converting. The enterprise is almost self-sufficient. All the grain is rolled and fed back to the stock, and the manure is applied back on the ground.

Every year the fertility and structure of the soil improves. High numbers of rare or declining birds breed here including barn owls, bullfinches, lapwings, red kites and skylarks.

The huge autumnal flocks of swallows and house martins attest to the invertebrates generated from within the fields. The estate’s hedgerows host thousands of redwings and fieldfares every winter, feasting on the year’s rich berry crop.

None of this would have been possible without the agri-environment schemes' support.