Warwickshire Rural Hub
Here is a flavour of some of the most recent industry news stories. To read all news posts please click on one of the categories above.
Mitigate dry conditions with drought tolerant forage crops
It is clear dry conditions are becoming the norm, not the exception. Grass and forage expert Adam Simper has written an article explaining what farmers can do to manage grass in dry conditions and how to grow drought tolerant forage crops in the future. Read the article on the Germinal website.
Advice from the Environment Agency to abstraction licence holders
The Environment Agency (EA) has supplied the following update on the West Midlands situation. They are asking abstractors to act now and use water responsibly;
- abstraction licence restrictions have been issued across the West Midlands to control usage and preserve water. EA is continuing to monitor the situation closely and there is the potential for an increase in the number of licence restrictions. EA has also commenced targeted irrigation patrols in restricted areas to check and enforce licence compliance.
- EA is encouraging abstractors to understand the risks of a period of prolonged dry weather on their abstraction and take action to minimise the impacts on the environment and their business. Abstractors should contact the EA early if they anticipate issues, and start planning for next year now.
- Information is available on the EA website detailing best practice guidelines to ensure that any water abstracted is used as efficiently as possible. See: Protecting our water, soil and air – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Localised thunderstorms are forecast for the week commencing 15 August. Dry compacted soils may not absorb intense rain well and this could lead to some flooding. The rain may temporarily increase river levels, but we need sustained steady rain to change the severity of the current prolonged dry weather event. EA has increased their monitoring (river flows, levels, quality and groundwater levels) and are working closely with water companies to manage water resources.
Higher Level Stewardship agreements to be extended by 5 years
Since 2019 Defra have been offering annual extensions to Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agreements in cases where agreements continue to deliver environmental outcomes. Feedback from farmers confirmed that although annual extensions were welcome, longer extensions would offer greater flexibility and certainty. Therefore, from 2023 onwards, Defra will offer existing agreement holders extensions of 5 years. In exceptional circumstances, agreements could be for fewer than 5 years. This change also removes the burden of having to apply for an extension each year. Read more on this page.
Advice on how to ramp up bio-security against Avian Influenza
Read the NFU Mutual Rural Crime Report for 2022
Rural crime continues to be one of the biggest worries for the rural community with half of the respondents to NFU Mutual’s recent poll being concerned by rural crime, and a third saying it is of major concern. The latest NFU Mutual Rural Crime Report shows that claims for thefts of Landrover Defenders increased by 34% and the increase in post-pandemic dog ownership has resulted in more sheep and lambs being injured or killed. But it’s not all bad news – the cost of theft for GPS systems has decreased by 47% due to targeted support for police operations. Read the full report here and also gain some tips and advice on crime prevention.
Calculate your EA water resources abstractions charge prior to billing
The first bills under the new Environment Agency (Environmental Permitting and Abstractions Licensing) Charging Scheme 2022 will be received in September. In the meantime you can calculate your likely bill using the annual charge indicator tool. Read all about the Charging Scheme and access the charge indicator tool on this page.
Complete your free farming legal health check with Shakespeare Martineau
A regular review of your business and family affairs is good practice – circumstances and business goals change over time. Local legal firm Shakespeare Martineau – a business supporter of the Rural Hub – want to help you review your current arrangements and highlight any areas where further advice, support or action could be beneficial, or be required to ensure you meet your objectives and have peace of mind. By completing their legal heath check questionnaire it will help provide their team with the information they will need to best identify any areas of concern or where support is needed. Once you have completed the questionnaire a member of the Shakespeare Martineau team will call you to arrange a free consultation meeting with one of their agriculture specialists. if you are a member of the NFU, Shakespeare Martineau will offer you a 12.5% discount off their hourly rates for work directly relating to your farming or growing business. Also, the NFU itself will make contributions towards the legal costs of drawing up contracts. Access the legal health check on this page.
Warwickshire Police ask for help in identifying hare coursing incidents
Warwickshire Police is asking for your help in reporting any incidents of hare coursing or poaching. Hare coursing tends to occur at this time of the year after harvest when large areas of land have been cleared of standing crops. It usually occurs at dawn or dusk, but there have been reports at all times of the day and night. Warwickshire Police is part of Operation Galileo, a national approach to hare coursing, with police forces working together to tackle this illegal wildlife crime. What to look out for:
- Coursing tends to happen on large flat areas of land.
- Be aware of a vehicle or number of vehicles, usually estate cars or vans, parked in a rural area.
- Binoculars are used to spot hares or at night strong lights or beams are used.
- Coursers will often walk along the field to frighten a hare into the open.
- The dogs used tend to be sight hounds, such as lurchers or whippet type dogs that chase by sight.
If you see hare coursing taking place, or suspect it is happening in your area contact the police straight away. You are advised not to approach the participants. Photographs and details of number plates will help the Police. You can also report incidents online at www.warwickshire.police.uk
Help to Grow Digital scheme is now available to small businesses
The Government’s Help to Grow: Digital scheme has now been expanded to businesses with fewer than five employees. The UK-wide scheme is designed to give your business performance a boost by helping you to embrace digital ways of working. With discounts on approved software worth up to £5,000, it’s a great opportunity for you to reach more customers and streamline time-consuming tasks. Read more here.
Apply early to renew an animal transport authority
If you move animals more than 65km as part of your business activity you must have a transport authorisation issued by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). Animal transport authorisations last for five years and a significant number are due for renewal in 2022. APHA is reminding transporters to apply for renewal as early as possible, and certainly before their current authorisation expires, to ensure they can continue to operate. There is no cost to renewing a transport authorisation but transporting animals without the correct authority carries a heavy penalty.
Advice on woodland establishment and management from Heart of England Forest
Heart of England Forest (HoEF) is creating and conserving a Forest to benefit the environment, wildlife, and people for hundreds of years to come. The forestry team monitors their woodlands for both practical and biodiversity purposes. Monitoring begins when the trees are first planted, and for successful establishment lasts until the trees are growing well and require no more help, but for biodiversity can continue long into the future. The HoEF Forestry Manager, Will Wood, has written an article explaining how his team establish and manage new woodlands. Read the article here.
Crime prevention advice for agricultural GPS systems
Theft of GPS systems, used by farmers on their vehicles and implements, is on the increase nationally, especially those used on tractors. As well as the loss of this important piece of equipment, offenders can also cause damage to the tractor when removing it. Forces around the country and abroad are working together, with key agencies, to identify the offenders and tackle this emerging crime. If you have this kind of equipment on your tractor, combine harvester or other machinery please read this advice sheet from Warwickshire Rural Watch. You can download the advice sheet here.
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Warwickshire Rural Hub CIC Directors
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Marion Perrett Pearson
Environmental Steering Group Members
Zoe Bell (Chair)
Meehal Grint, Kings Seeds
Tom Newbery, Highfield Farm
David Ruddock, Middlemarch Environmental
Louis Phipps, Bragborough Estate
Zoe Burrows, Rookery Farm
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