Wednesday, 15 February 2012
Conservation Grade Student
Yesterday I travelled to Royston in Hertfordshire for an Induction Day into becoming a farmer growing 'Conservation Grade' milling wheat for this years harvest. The training took place at Thrift Farm and is owned by Robert Law Robert has been one of the pioneers of Conservation Grade (CG) cereals, growing Oats for Jordans and as one of the 80 or so CG, growers has dedicated 10% of the arable area of the farm to wildlife.
The day started with an induction about CG from Brin Hughes about how the organisation started and what the aims are. In a nutshell the idea is to grow food for people and wildlife on the same farm, whilst getting a premium from the customer for the nature friendly production methods (very important!) In essence the farm needs to provide varying degrees of habitat and food sources for different insects, mammals and birds made up of specific types. 4% must be in Pollen and Nectar Mixes, 2% on Wild Bird Food, 2% in fine tussocky grasses and the final 2% in other habitats, such as hedgerows, ditches, watercourses, woodland and ponds. These percentages work in nicely for us with our Higher Level Stewardship Agreement. A farm map is also needed to help the assessor when being audited, once a year. Within two years there is a habitat assessment to ensure all of the habitats we say we've planted have been done and managed accordingly.