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Warwickshire Rural Hub

Recent Developments

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.

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.  

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.  

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. 

Watch how to apply for an SFI Standards Agreement

Defra has produced a video giving guidance on how to apply for an SFI Standards Agreement.  Watch the video here.  

There is also a new leaflet which will guide you through the application steps.  Download the leaflet here.  

New Payments for Farmers leaflets are published by Defra

Defra has published two new information leaflets; New Farming Policies and Payments – an 18 page booklet giving full information on the new approach to farming policy and the grants, payments and advice which are now available to farmers and a 2 page leaflet which is a quick reference guide to the same information.  These replace the previous “Farming is Changing” leaflets.  Download both publications on the links below.

New Farming Policies and Payments – 18 page booklet

New Farming Policies and Payments – 2 page reference guide

 

Dry weather impacts on agri-environment schemes

If you have an agri-environment agreement and you cannot meet the agreement requirements due to adverse weather conditions, you must contact the Rural Payments Agency.  The RPA will review each individual agreement holder’s circumstances on a case by case basis.  This applies to Countryside Stewardship, Environmental Stewardship and the Sustainable Farming Incentive.  In all cases there is a deadline in which to contact the RPA.  The NFU has drawn up some useful information on this page.  

The outlook for land values is positive, according to Carter Jonas

Over the last 30 years, farmland values have outperformed inflation and grown at a rate that exceeds many other common investments, delivering wealth preservation benefits.  According to an article by Carter Jonas, despite short-term profitability concerns, the outlook for land values looks positive. With limited supply of land coming to the market, growing demand from alternative investors and new income stream opportunities, they believe that land prices will, at the least, hold firm with potential to rise in the short- to medium- term. In the longer-term, it will continue its positive trajectory.   You can read the full article on this link. 

Read advice from Ellacotts on farming in a volatile market

Accountant Mark Dickin, a partner in the agricultural team of Ellacotts, has shared his thoughts about the volatility that we are currently seeing in the market and what this means for farming profits and tax.    You can read Mark’s article here.  

Ellacotts is a business supporter of the Rural Hub.

Become a TIAH cultivator and help shape skills and careers in agriculture and horticulture

The Institute for Agriculture and Horticulture and looking to recruit farmers to become TIAH Cultivators and help shape future skills and careers for the industry.  As a cultivator you will also gain access to member only features and connect with like-minded individuals to support your professional growth.   The time commitment is approximately 20 minutes every two weeks to review, test and provide feedback on new elements on the platform.  In return the cultivator will be entered into a monthly prize draw.   TIAH is looking for farmers who are prepared to challenge the status quo, and enthusiasm for building a strong and profitable future for our industry.  To read more visit their website.  

The 2022 Agricultural Census is now active

The agricultural census runs every 10 years and all active, commercial farms are required to complete it.  Defra uses the information to agree industry priorities, make decisions on investments and design policies which meet the needs to farmers.  If you have an active, commercial holding you should have received an email or letter with information on how to complete the census.    If you have not received any information and you think you should have, or if you would like assistance in completing the census, please contact Defra on 03000 600 140 or email surveys@defra.gov.uk 

Paper £20 and £50 notes cease to be legal tender after 30 September 2022

The Bank of England will be withdrawing legal tender status of paper £20 and £50 banknotes after 30 September 2022.  Anyone who still has these is encouraged to use them or deposit them at their bank or a Post Office.    Whilst the majority of paper £20 and £50 banknotes in circulation have been replaced with new polymer versions, there are still over £6 billion worth of paper £20 featuring the economist Adam Smith, and over £8 billion worth of paper £50 banknotes, featuring the engineers Boulton and Watt, in circulation.

Applications to the Sustainable Farming Incentive open today (30 June)

The Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) scheme is available to all farmers who currently receive Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments. It is designed to be accessible, and will reward sustainable practices that support food production and benefit the environment.  The SFI is the first of three new environmental land management schemes being introduced under the Agricultural Transition Plan.  There is no ‘application window’ and no deadline by which farmers must apply, so farmers can apply throughout the year at a time that works best for them.  This is the initial rollout of the scheme. It will be expanded over the next three years as Direct Payments are reduced. The full set of standards will be in place by 2025.

Read more about the Sustainable Farming Incentive and make an application on this page.    Or read this Defra blog post.

Advice from Ellacotts on how to minimise your tax risk from environmental schemes

The spring newsletter from accountants Ellacotts is now available to download.  One of the articles is advice on how to structure your farming operations to minimise your tax risk from environmental schemes.

Download your copy here.

What exactly is regenerative agriculture?

Regenerative agriculture is the latest buzz word that we are all now familiar with, but what exactly is it?  However, as the Regenerative Agriculture movement is continually adapting and expanding, there is no agreed definition.    But there are five key principles:

  1. Minimise soil disturbance – adopting reduced or zero tillage practices
  2. Keep soil covered – minimising the amount of time that the soil is left bare, especially in winter, by covering with cover crops and leys
  3. Maintain living roots, which help stabilise the soil, prevent nutrient run-off and actively input carbon into the soil.
  4. Diversify rotations – Include leys and diversify crops grown
  5. Integrate livestock. Livestock can eat the grass grown to cover soil between arable rotations, and their manure can add valuable nutrients into the soil, reducing the need for fertilisers.

You can read more about these principles on this page of the Farm PEP website.

NRoSO suspension period is extended

An extension of the NRoSO suspension period has been announced. These changes have been prompted by recent difficulties in obtaining NRoSO continued professional points as a result of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. During this extended period, points gained will supplement any historical shortfall and lead to membership reinstatement. Members will still be required to obtain 30 points for their current membership term, this being a period of three years starting from their initial joining date. This extension period will run until 31 December 2022.

These temporary changes will give members an extended suspension period where they can gain CPD points to ensure they remain members of the NRoSO scheme. If you have had your membership cancelled since 1 January 2022 and feel you should qualify for reinstatement, you can contact City & Guilds via nrososupport@cityandguilds.com.

Breedr launches sheep recording app

Breedr, the precision livestock network, has launched a new sheep element to its free app, meaning producers can record lambing details, weights and medicine usage directly into their phone or tablet. They can also produce performance reports and trade livestock directly with other farmers, based on lifetime animal data, for fully transparent supply chains.    As well as the free sheep app, Breedr has launched a Pro version enabling mixed farmers to record their beef and sheep data in one place. As well as giving them seamless access to their sheep and beef information and trading platforms, Pro offers advanced reporting of Key Performance Indicators, benchmarking against industry targets and other Breedr farmers, and detailed farm maps to show where different animals are located or grazing.   For more information visit www.breedr.co or call 03300 436327

New guide on adapting woodland management to climate change

A new UK Forestry Standard Practice Guide ‘Adapting forest and woodland management to the changing climate’ outlines the steps that can be taken to foster woodlands which will be resilient to current and future threats as a result of climate change, such as drought, changing weather patterns and more frequent, severe weather events.  The guide presents a range of such measures, including diversifying the different types of trees planted across a landscape – such as changing the dominant species – to increase biodiversity. It also advises choosing seeds best suited for the local site and climate to reduce the risks associated with drought, frost, and pests and diseases. It also recommended more natural regeneration.

State of the UK’s barn owl population in 2021

2021 showed a promising start for Barn Owls, with overall nesting occupancy 9% higher than average. While 2021 nesting occupancy was above average, unfortunately the increase wasn’t as high as previous peaks. Nesting occupancy varied considerably across regions, with an extraordinary increase seen in Leicestershire (188%) and over 50% increases recorded in other counties such as Gloucestershire and Staffordshire.

Despite the overall optimistic start of the breeding season, brood size was 7% below the average of all previous years and only showed
a slight improvement upon the really poor year of 2020.   In Warwickshire the Stour Valley Wildlife Action Group and the Brandon Ringing Group checked 117 sites and discovered 24% of them were nesting.   The average brood size was 2.4

Read the full report on the link below.

Barn Owl Report 2021

Results of the GWCT Big Farmland Bird Count 2022

February was the ninth annual Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC) organised by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust.  Over 1,900 farmers took part and recorded 130 species across more than 1.5 million acres, and counting more than 420,000 birds.  The most commonly seen species were blackbirds and woodpigeons, seen by over 71% of participants. Robins, Carrion Crows and Pheasants were seen by over 63% of the farmers.   A total of 26 species from the Red List for Birds of Conservation Concern were recorded, with 7 appearing in the 25 most frequently seen species list. Starlings, Lapwing, Fieldfare, and Linnet were the four most abundant red listed species recorded with over 125,000 total spotted which equates to 29% of all species spotted.  The five most abundant birds seen were woodpigeons, starling, lapwing, fieldfare and rooks. A total of 204,398 were seen, making up over 48% of the total number of birds recorded.

Read the full details of the bird count on this page.

A new guide for reducing on-farm greenhouse gas emissions

The new Innovation for Agriculture guide is aimed at farmers who are interested in the positive impact that their farm could have in tackling climate change and are looking to meet the demand for low carbon farming in a way that is both economically beneficial and environmentally friendly.  It aims to offer farmers ready to use solutions, weighing up the possible environmental impact against the positive benefit cost ratio for farm business.  Offering advice on the pathways to success and the best steps for implementing possible ‘actions’, this guide recognises that farming is part of the solution to climate change, rather than the blame.  Visit this page to download the guide.

Farmers’ Weekly Transition Hub – helping farm businesses to secure a sustainable future

Transition is a new initiative from Farmers’ Weekly aimed at securing a sustainable future for your farm business.  British farmers stand on the cusp of a new agricultural revolution when they will be expected to do much more than produce food: improving biodiversity, soil health, air and water quality, and storing carbon to help mitigate the impact of climate change will be part of their farm business.  All this means that farmers must refocus their farms to ensure they thrive as businesses while looking after and enhancing the environment.  The Farmers’ Weekly Transition Hub has a podcast, webinars, articles and case studies which will help you to navigate your journey to a sustainable future for British agriculture.  Visit the Transition Hub here.  

Read the NFU report on how farmers are working towards Net Zero

The NFU has launched a new report showcasing the steps farmers are taking to help British farming reach its net zero target by 2040.  You can read the report on this link.  

Read farming statistics for 2020 in Agriculture in the UK

The Defra booklet Agriculture in the UK is an annual publication which contains an extensive range of data including farm incomes, land use, livestock numbers, prices, production of key commodities (e.g. wheat, milk, vegetables), overseas trade, organic farming and the environment. The information is used widely by government, industry, researchers and other stakeholders to support policy monitoring and development.  View your copy on this page.  

Break free from environmental jargon with the Prince’s Countryside Fund glossary of terms

Speaking at the Farmers Weekly awards at the start of 2021 HRH The Prince of Wales, set a challenge – to explain terms and practices linked to the environment in straightforward language.   So, the Prince’s Countryside Fund has created A-Zero: A farmer’s guide to breaking free from environmental jargon. The booklet is aimed at farmers and hopes to ensure that the ambitions around improving the management of the UK’s environment are accessible to all.  Visit this page to download the booklet.

AHDB machinery costing calculator

Calculate the cost of farm machinery, per hectare or per hour, with a simple calculator available for download on the AHDB website.  The tool can also be used to compare the costs of owning equipment with the cost of hiring it or getting in a contractor.  Different machinery systems can also be compared and repair costs can be calculated for budgeting purposes.

Measure your farm performance with the AHDB KPI Express

Understanding how your farm business is performing is critical. It’s fundamental to making decisions on how to improve performance. It helps you know where you are now, supports setting future targets and seeing how actual performance measures up against these targets.  A new tool from AHDB provides a core set of Key Performance Indicators to use as the starting point to understand how your farm business is performing.   Visit this page to use the KPI Express tool.

Agricultural transition – watch a PCF webinar on getting ready for change

Prince’s Countryside Fund and McDonald’s hosted a webinar on 9 March 2021 which covered what’s happening in England under Defra’s Agricultural Transition Plan, what this means in practical terms for farmers and simple next steps that farm businesses can take to prepare themselves.   The webinar was delivered by Kite Consultants who also answered questions on the agricultural transition from farm businesses.  McDonald’s and PCF hosted this webinar as part of their Ready for Change programme. Aimed at farmers who’ve participated in The Prince’s Farm Resilience Programme, Ready for Change equips farm businesses with the tools to adapt their activities and make sensible, informed decisions about their businesses. Since September 2020, 37 farm businesses have taken part in the workshop.  You can watch a recording of the webinar on this page.  

 

Forces Farming – helping ex-forces personnel to find a new career in agriculture

Retired forces personnel can often have many skills which are very transferable to farming – and they are also used to working outdoors in all weathers!    Their forces training means that veterans will also be punctual, thrive on routine, be safety conscious and be used to physical work.  If you are a farming business which would be interested in hosting an insight day, offering some work experience or even a longer placement to a forces veteran please visit the Forces Farming website for information on how to register your interest.

Recycle your farm plastic with the Green Tractor scheme

Green Tractor’s aim is to provide UK agriculture with the ability to recycle all farm plastic by 2030.  They operate on a not-for-profit basis.  The Green Tractor Scheme provides sustainable solutions for plastic used across all sectors of agriculture in the UK. The scheme is primarily focused on the collection and processing of waste farm plastic. Although agricultural plastics only represent 3% of the total plastics used in the UK, it is important that this high-profile sector continues to improve producer responsibility.   The Green Tractor Scheme covers the significant majority of the UK’s collectors and provides shared responsibility for farm plastic across the entire supply chain. The first plastic recycling survey shows that 19,974 tonnes of plastic was collected in 2018 and 24,149 tonnes was collected in 2019. Most of the plastic was sent for recycling with only 4% going to landfill.  To find out how to join the scheme please visit the Green Tractor website.  

New bank Oxbury is launched which puts farmers first

Oxbury, a new specialist agricultural bank, has now fully launched its savings and loan operations.   Designed with a 100% farmer focus, the bank and its products have been built with the specific aim of benefiting farmers and offering straightforward lending and savings products tailored to their needs.  To support farmers in their borrowing needs, the bank’s flagship account, Oxbury Farm Credit, will allow access to the cash needed for farm inputs such as feed, seed, chemicals and fertilisers.  Later in the year, the bank will also be launching the UK’s first carbon mitigation savings account for the general consumer. This allows everyone to save in an environmentally conscious way while supporting tree-planting projects on British farms. It also brings more money into the agricultural sector, as all funds saved with Oxbury are only used to support lending to UK agriculture.  You can access the bank’s website on this page.  

Addington Fund seeks building land for development of retirement homes

The farming charity Addington Fund is looking to buy a limited number of retirement homes for farmers who want to retire but cannot contemplate it on financial grounds. These can be purchased out right by Addington or on a shared equity basis using a declaration of trust agreement. If you would like more information, please call Sue English on 01926 620135 opt 2 or email sueenglish@addingtonfund.org.uk 

The charity is also looking to create the first Addington Fund owned retirement cul-de-sac for retired farmers and agriculturists. They are looking for a suitable development of up to five houses/bungalows in a suitable rural location with sympathetic like-minded partners as a builder or a landowner.  Addington Fund is happy to assist with planning applications. Please contact Bill Young on 07909 538426 or billyoung@addingtonfund.org.uk for further information.

Read the statistics on farm business income in England 2019/20

Defra has published its annual statistics on farm business income in England for 2019/20.  The figures represents the financial return to all unpaid labour on their capital invested in the farm business, including land and buildings. It is designed to compare performance across different types of farming.  The average Farm Business Income in 2019 /20 was £46,000. A combination of reduced prices and increased costs led to lower incomes, with output virtually unchanged.  Read the full report here.

Working towards net zero emissions for beef farmers

Farming for a Better Climate has produced some practical guides on how farmers can reduce carbon emissions from beef production.  Visit this page to read the guides.

Nature Friendly Farming Network publish a guide to net zero carbon in farming

Net zero carbon refers to achieving an overall balance between emissions produced and emissions taken out of the atmosphere. Achieving net zero is required to meet the Paris Agreement, which aims to keep global temperatures below a 1.5°C rise above pre-industrial levels.  To achieve the scale of change needed, action must be taken now to reduce emissions and lay the foundations for the longer-term transformation required.  In order to help farmers achieve net zero targets Nature Friendly Farming Network has created a practical guide for farmers.

New opportunity for farmers – Arden Farm Wildlife Network

Are you a farmer in the Arden area of Warwickshire interested in:
• Getting support to help you with managing the options in your environmental schemes.
• Keeping up to date with the changes in environmental support and different channels of funding available.
• Improving your farm for wildlife with low cost methods – that can benefit your business too.
• Finding more about what wildlife you have got on your farm?

The Arden Farm Wildlife Network could help you!

If you would like further details then please give Zoe Bell a call or drop her an email.

Contact: Zoe Bell
Telephone: 07980 771872
Email Address: zoecbell@outlook.com
Website: Open Website

Get pelletwise

The Metaldehyde Stewardship Group has produce “A guide to Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and slug control”.
To view the guide use the link below.

Website: Open Website

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Rural Hub

Co-ordinator

Jane Hampson
E: info@ruralhub.org.uk

Tel: 07780 159291

 

 

 

 

Warwickshire Rural Hub CIC Directors

Karen Ellis (Chair)
Amy Brant
Rosemary Collier
Emlyn Evans
Ian Jelley
Henry Lucas
Marion Perrett Pearson
Alexandra Robinson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Environmental Steering Group Members

Zoe Bell (Chair)
Tony Beysens
Meehal Grint, Kings Seeds
Tom Newbery, Highfield Farm
David Ruddock, Middlemarch Environmental
Louis Phipps, Bragborough Estate
Zoe Burrows, Rookery Farm

 

 

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