The RSPB has joined forces with BBC Countryfile magazine to launch
a new competition to highlight the work that farmers are doing
Yellowhammer by Tom Marshall
The Nature of Farming Award will reward farmers for providing
the ‘big three’ – the three essentials
farmland birds need to thrive.
A total of £2,400 is up for grabs for the winner
and seven regional champions. The national winner will
be chosen next autumn with the top prize of £1,000
and other awards, being presented at a dinner in early
An expert panel will draw up a shortlist of four farmers
in July and the winner will be chosen by an online public
Dr Darren Moorcroft, Head of Conservation Advice at the
RSPB, said: “Farmers are at the frontline of conservation.
Their decisions determine how welcoming to wildlife their
farms are. This award will showcase the very best, championing
the vital conservation role farming can play.
“Farmland bird declines started several decades
ago. Whilst species like skylarks, lapwings and corn buntings
have benefited immeasurably from the actions of individual
farmers, across the UK they are still struggling and desperately
need more help.
“We’re hoping that this award will encourage
more farmers to get involved and make a real difference
to these birds’ fortunes.”
For further information and to request an entry form for
the Nature of Farming Award, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01767 680551. The closing date for entries is April
The big three - the three necessities of life for farmland
birds - are:
Food in winter
Winter stubbles, weedy root crops or special mixtures of
seed-rich plants all provide the seeds that many birds
need to survive the winter. Others birds rely on berries
but these berries are only available if hedgerows are
cut only once every two or three years, in late winter.
Food in spring
With hungry chicks to feed, adult birds must have somewhere
to find insects and areas where wildflowers can grow
and damp areas of pasture can both increase insect numbers.
Birds including yellowhammers, corn buntings and grey
partridges will benefit.
Whether in the hedgerows and ditches or the centre of the
fields, a safe nest site is critical to the survival
of many birds on farmland. Well-managed margins – edges
of fields allowed to grow wild - and small, unsown patches
in arable fields called skylark plots, offer a lifeline
for a range of farmland birds.
The Nature of Farming Award replaces the RSPB/Jordans
Operation Lapwing competition, which has run for five years.
Dr Moorcroft said: “Operation Lapwing was a great
success but only represented a small proportion of the
conservation efforts of the 4,500 farmers we work with
each year. The new award gives all farmers helping wildlife
the opportunity to take part.”
Cavan Scott, Editor of BBC Countryfile, said: “The
Nature of Farming Award is a fantastic way for BBC Countryfile
readers to acknowledge the contribution farming makes to
maintaining our countryside’s landscape and wildlife.”
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