• Hope Farm: Twelve years of hard work, learning and great success

     2012 is a truly auspicious year in Britain, with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and a certain sporting event that cannot be named for legal reasons. But it is also an auspicious year in the sleepy Cambridgeshire hamlet of Knapwell, home to Hope Farm, the RSPB’s 180 hectare arable farm.

    Changing farming practices and polarisation of cropping regimes has been great for us all as consumers. Rarely are supermarket…

    • 31 Jul 2012
  • Giving wildlife a sporting chance

    As a certain major sports event opened on Friday, with a spectacular ceremony featuring a pastoral idyll that helped shape our green and pleasant land, my thoughts turned to some of the amazing farm wildlife that share our landscape. A great case could be made for many contenders, but here is my winners list:

    • Glow worm: a true ‘torch bearer’. June and July are the best months to see these fascinating bioluminescent…
    • 30 Jul 2012
  • A sunny outlook

    Just in time for the summer weather - solar panels were installed at Hope Farm this week.  This is part of a programme across many of the RSPB's offices and reserves (and our one commercial farm!) to help combat climate change.  Read more about it here.

    In action at Hope Farm this week

    • 27 Jul 2012
  • Unlocking the CAP’s green potential

    By Jenna Hegarty, Senior Agriculture Policy Officer

    The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform negotiations are in full swing and much of the attention has been on controversial ‘greening’ proposals for Direct Payments (Pillar I). So we felt it was high time to shine the spotlight on Rural Development (Pillar II). Along with BirdLife Europe and our German partner, NABU, we held a conference in Brussels in June to focus…

    • 26 Jul 2012
  • The thrills of Combines and golden fields!

    I have to confess I get as excited about the first combine harvester coming into action each summer as I do about the first swallows & swifts arriving back from Africa each spring.

    While the arrival of the first swallow symbolises the start of summer, and a feat of nature, that this little bird can cross the Sahara desert, the first combine of the year symbolises the start of autumn and a feat of human innovation…

    • 25 Jul 2012
  • Voting is open!

    It was a difficult task, but the judges have chosen the four fabulous finalists for the 2012 RSPB Telegraph Nature of Farming Award.  Frankly, I don't know how the judges choose each year, the standard is wonderfully high, and they are all brilliant in different ways.  But we shut the judges in a room and don't let them out until they agree. 

    The finalists this year (clockwise from top left) are:

    • 20 Jul 2012
  • Hooray for Henry!

    I’m sure that’s a joke Henry Edmunds has heard before (and is probably a tad tired of).  But we really should shout ‘hooray’ for this special farmer from Wiltshire.

    Henry is the South West England Winner of the RSPB Telegraph Nature of Farming Award 2012.


    Henry’s 1,600ha organic mixed farm provides an abundance of invertebrate life during the breeding season.  Thick species-rich hedgerows…

    • 19 Jul 2012
  • Scotland's winners for wildlife

    By Chris Bailey, Advisory Manager, Scotland

    This years RSPB Telegraph Nature of Farming Award competition was tight with several high quality applications vying for the top spot. The overall Scottish winners were David and Morag Miller of Geise Farm in Caithness, with John Leith awarded a highly commended for his work at Backhill Farm, Aberdeenshire.

    A winning partnership

    David and Morag Miller run a 49ha beef and…

    • 18 Jul 2012
  • Best in show

    By Mark Vercoe, Volunteer & Farmer Alliance Project Officer, Wales

    A visit to Penlan Farm in Carmarthenshire is a real treat – this family run business takes a holistic approach to running a strong commercial enterprise that also actively supports the environment, their staff, and the community.  It’s an approach that has netted them Wales Winner in this year’s RSPB Telegraph Nature of Farming A…

    • 17 Jul 2012
  • If you haven't seen it yet....

    Check out Martin Harper's blog today - a guest post from Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Caroline Spelman, talking about the UK Government's ambitions for reform of the Common Agriculture Policy.  Interesting stuff......

    • 16 Jul 2012
  • The right balance

    Rob Allan believes in balance.  He passionately believes that farming needs to deliver food for us and for wildlife, and his approach has weighted things in his (and wildlife’s) favour. Rob is the Midlands Winner RSPB Telegraph Nature of Farming Award 2012.

    Upton Estate is a 776ha mixed farm near Banbury, and has a huge range of habitats supporting rich and varied wildlife.  Rob doesn’t just believe that we need…

    • 16 Jul 2012
  • An award-winning haven

    Nestled in the Yorkshire Wolds is Iain Hurst’s arable farm - 365 hectares of wildlife haven.

    Iain is Northern England’s winner of the RSPB Telegraph Nature of Farming Award 2012.  His farm has an overwhelming range and scale of species as a result of Iain’s careful dedication and environmental management over many years.

    Iain has been working with Buglife and is a demonstration farm for their B-Lines…

    • 15 Jul 2012
  • Bugs, birds and beasts in the East

    Some of you may be familiar with the title – it is a phrase used by our Eastern England region.  And it’s a perfect description for this year’s Eastern England winner of the RSPB Telegraph Nature of Farming Award


    Jason Gathorne-Hardy has taken an ingenious approach to flower rich grassland management, which is designed to encourage ant-hills.  Along with standing dead oak wood, nectar and seed rich…

    • 14 Jul 2012
  • Celebrate with a nice Burgandy!

    Much as I'm partial to a nice drop of wine, this time I'm talking about a butterfly. 

    The Duke of Burgundy is a pretty little fritillary that lives on grassland or woodland clearings, mostly in central-southern England.  It's range has substantially declined in recent decades, but in 2008 it returned to the Norfolk Estate, a 1240ha mixed farm in West Sussex. 

    Thanks to the careful stewardship of Peter Kn…

    • 13 Jul 2012
  • Consultation draft of an environmental package for arable farmers

    This is an integrated package to protect wildlife, soils and water on an arable farm through agri-environment schemes or voluntary land management. It is being developed with a wide range of agricultural and environmental organisations to simplify environmental messages for farmers. We would value any thoughts you have on the practicality of this package and what you would need to help you implement it. Please click

    • 11 Jul 2012
  • Focussing attention

    Did you hear the Today programme this morning?  There was an excellent item on the latest cuts in dairy prices (if you missed it, it should be available for the next 7 days on iPlayer here). 

    The facts are stark - 40% of small UK dairy farmers have gone out of business in just 10 years.  The latest cuts will, sadly, no doubt mean that others will follow.  Getting paid less than the cost of production is simply untenable…

    • 6 Jul 2012
  • Plump and Chirpy

    by Stuart Croft - Cirl Bunting Reintroduction Field Officer                                                   

    Go back a couple of generations and the plight of one particular species was not a good one. The cirl bunting – a sparrow-sized bird, closely related to the yellowhammer - gets its name from an Italian translation meaning plump and chirpy. Deprived of its favoured requirements within its preferred traditional, lowland farmland habitat (over-wintered s…

    • 5 Jul 2012