The Chilterns are famous for their chalky soils, precious chalk streams, ancient woodland, rolling farmland and rich industrial heritage that has helped shape the landscape. Farming continues to play an active part in the landscape and the Chilterns Conservation Board is keen to help farmers understand changes that are being proposed in the new 25-year Environment Plan and the Agriculture Bill.
These changes will be wrapped up into a package of public goods that will sit alongside food production. So what are public goods, what are the benefits of them and how can farmers incorporate these measures across their farms?
We organised a programme of six short online webinars delivered by leading experts in their fields. The webinars were designed to give farmers a basic introduction to some of the major topics. We hope the webinars were able to give Chilterns’ farmers a better understanding of the themes and what the changes might mean for them and their farms.
Each session offered an opportunity to hear from key speakers, ask questions and join in some discussion on each of the six topics. Attendees were entered into a free prize draw and a chance to win one of a number of valuable prizes designed to help them implement practical steps linked to each of the key topics.
We are very excited that Ian Waller (Chilterns Farmer, Chilterns Conservation Board member and Chair of the Central Chilterns Farmer Cluster) was able to chair the programme. To kick the programme off James Rebanks shared his passion for his upland farming in Cumbria, and why he feels so strongly that farming and the environment can and must work together, a theme he talks about so passionately in his latest book ‘English Pastoral’.
James shared his own views on changes in farming practices, the impact they have had on the environment and how he has worked to bring farming and the environment together on his upland farm in the Cumbrian fells.
A key-note session that not only set the programme in context but also helped explain, in practical terms, what can be achieved and the benefits to farming as well as the landscape.
Please note the video of this session is no longer available.
Looking after soils is a cornerstone of successful farming, for wildlife and to help address climate change. At FarmED Jonty is a key champion for practical ways in which farmers can work with their soils to provide benefits to not only their farms but to the wider environment.
Jonty gave an engaging introduction to the principles of Regenerative Farming and the impact they have on soil health, the environment and farm business.
Reducing carbon emissions will become the single most important environmental issue in coming years. Understanding how your farm contributes either by releasing carbon or storing it in your grassland, woodland and hedges is a vital first step.
Becky looked at key areas of farming and helped attendees to better understand their farm’s carbon footprint as well as highlighting areas they might be able to address to reduce it.
The Chilterns are rich in their archaeological history. From ancient settlers, to woodland industry to your farm’s field patterns the past has shaped not just the wider landscape but your farm and how you are able to farm it.
Wendy gave a fascinating introduction to the history of the Chilterns and helped attendees to not only understand how this has influenced their farm but also how to spot some features they may have on their farms, explain why they are there and how to conserve them.
The Chilterns AONB is a largely dry landscape and farmers’ ability to manage their water resources is fast becoming critical. The quality of both river water and groundwater can also be affected by farming practices leading to issues for both public water supply and wider ecology. The water we do have in our Chalk Streams is incredibly valuable and it’s vital that farmers look to the future to manage their land to preserve both the quality and quantity of water.
Alister discussed some of the issues affecting the water environment and how measures to improve soil health and husbandry can be key to improving water quality. He also shared some examples of schemes that Affinity Water have been developing with farmers across their region.
Ever wondered what butterflies, birds and plants live on your farm? Why they live on your farm? How you can create more habitat for them? Not sure how to fund any habitat works or how to enter Countryside Stewardship or how to manage your habitats?
Kirsty offered an overview of how she helps farmers to look at their farms through the eyes of wildlife, help to identify opportunities to improve habitats whilst still working within their farming operations.
Agri-environment schemes and the future - How to get the best for your business
You are invited to attend a free online workshop that the National Association of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (NAAONB) have organised for farmers. The sessions will share details about the changes to agri-environment schemes that are happening over the next few years. The workshop is running on Tuesday 23 March from 1pm - 2.30pm. Click the button below to book your place.
The programme will cover: