March 27, 2014
Valuable New Grower ‘Greening’ Support
Two new initiatives have been announced by Agrii this spring to help growers maintain the greatest possible freedom to farm by achieving sustained improvements in farmland wildlife under the emerging new CAP greening measures.
Both a specially-designed environmental training course supported by Natural England and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and the company’s enhanced range of grass and wildflower seed mixtures focus on effective delivery rather than just compliance.
Developed by independent farmland wildlife expert, Marek Nowakowski of the Wildlife Farming Company from his lifetime of experience in habitat improvement alongside commercial crop production, they provide the tools to ensure desired national wildlife improvements are met without the need for extending Environmental Focus Areas (EFAs) beyond the initial 5% arable area requirement.
“Against the background of growing public and Government concerns over continued farmland wildlife losses, it’s increasingly important the environmental measures we take deliver real and tangible farmland wildlife benefits,” stressed Mr Nowakowski. “Otherwise, we may well see EFAs being extended in the future.
“This makes quality as vital as quantity in the habitat improvement efforts critical to progress. In turn, it means grass and flower mixes must be chosen and used with care and an understanding of both their specific roles and value and the management required for them to actually work.”
The new one-day training course, available to Agrii customers linked to iFarm demonstration sites across the country, is split between indoor theory and outdoor practical sessions. It sets out to provide a working knowledge of which habitats to create and where, how to select the most appropriate balance of grass and wildflower mixtures, and what agronomy to employ for the most effective establishment and maintenance.
Alongside the course is an expanded range of grass and wildflower seed mixes put together from proven science and practical experience. These include mixtures based on fine grasses, tussocky grasses and legumes to meet particular wildlife, management and budgetary needs.
“All the mixtures in the range are acceptable for ELS and HLS as well as designed to be well-suited to the ‘greening’ requirements of the reformed CAP,” Marek Nowakowski stressed.
“When it comes down to it, growing wildlife is no different from growing crops. “It’s all in the agronomy. So our aim is to equip Agrii advisers and their customers with the practical understanding and mixtures to deliver the wildlife goods through EFAs and enjoy the pleasure and success this can bring. I have no doubt that combining wildlife stewardship with first class crop agronomy will be an increasingly important component of profitable arable farming for the future.”