As Britain’s largest dairy event opens in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, Natural England today (Wednesday 17 September) highlighted the important role that Environmental Stewardship schemes have to play in England’s dairy sector.
Nearly 40% of all England’s dairy farms are now in Entry Level Stewardship, demonstrating the ways in which good environmental land management is being successfully married with intensively managed grassland systems.
Dr Helen Phillips, Chief Executive of Natural England said:
“A large number of England’s dairy farmers are already in ES schemes, benefiting from the regular income that ES provides and delivering important benefits to the environment in the process. The Schemes are open to all and we would like to see all dairy farmers take a serious look at how ES can make a real difference to the economics and environmental performance of their businesses.”
Entry Level Stewardship is the first tier of environmental stewardship schemes and provides farmers with a consistent stream of income - irrespective of commodity and output prices – while offering a number of environmental management options to choose from including; hedgerow management, ditch management, over wintered stubbles, protection of in-field trees and maintenance of woodland fencing. The scheme is simple to apply for and administer, offers regular payments, and can help make the best use of land alongside established businesses.
Worcestershire dairy farmer David Goodwin has been in Entry Level Stewardship since April 2006. He has a 150-head dairy herd producing 1.2 million litres of milk annually alongside 250 breeding ewes. The farm also produces milling wheat, forage maize and barley for his intensive beef enterprise. On being in ELS, David said:
“We have not found ELS to be a burden on the business and it has been easy to manage. We have found it straightforward to implement the ELS options within our existing farming practices.”
Shropshire dairy farmer Clive Gurney has also been in ELS for the past three years. Clive manages his 320-head Holstein dairy herd on his 400 acre farm with the environment in mind. Clive said:
“The wildlife on our farm is thriving, the hedge and ditch management has created ‘wildlife motorways’ throughout the farm – we have seen an increase in skylarks and linnets, have otters in our ponds and a resident barn owl. We do get excited by what we see on our farm and are passionate about the environment, but Stewardship also gives us a ‘comforting’ income to our farm business especially at difficult times and in unforeseen circumstances.”
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