Robert, who farms in Great Wollaston, Shropshire, entered into an agri-environment scheme over ten years ago and has seen how it has helped wildlife on this farm.
There are populations of tree sparrows and yellowhammers, brown hares, water voles and great-crested newts and in summer, lapwings and curlews. Even lesser spotted teenagers are seen on the educational access visits!
The farm has stayed with a mix of enterprises - dairy cows, store cattle and arable crops, both autumn and spring sown. Without the help of agri-environment scheme, there would have been an inevitable move to greater specialisation - be it all corn or all grass and cows.
He firmly believes there are great benefits to the environment from maintaining a variety of cropping, especially when incorporating the ‘Integrated Farm Management’ practices promoted by LEAF.
The grants under the schemes have allowed hedges to be re-generated, trees planted, buffer strips located next to ditches and in-field trees, wild bird seed mixtures grown. He readily acknowledges that much of this would rarely happen in the absence of this financial help.
Looking at the future challenges he will face, he sees a need to protect the environment and wildlife habitats against climate change as well as seeing them as allies in the fight to combat it.