RSPB Hope Farm Technical Webinar series

Hope Farm webinar

Starting 28th October at 6.30pm, RSPB Hope Farm will host five webinars to share and demonstrate key principles from twenty years of wildlife-friendly farming, featuring experts from the RSPB, the Centre of Ecology and Hydrology, Rothamsted Research, Agrii, the Farm Wildlife Partnership, the Nature Friendly Farming Network, the Fair to Nature certification scheme, and the National Trust.

The webinars are designed for anyone with an interest in environmentally sound and profitable farming practices that work with nature in mind.

They will cover:

1.       Wildlife-friendly farming in high-productivity farmland

2.       Soil health and cover crops

3.       Ecological intensification

4.       Insecticide-free farming

5.       Future funding for wildlife-friendly farming

Wednesday 28th October 2020 at 6:30pm

A tried and tested plan for wildlife-friendly and productive arable farming

  • Richard Winspear, Head of the RSPB’s Agricultural Advice team, will talk about the origin of the Farm Wildlife Partnership, a source of advice from nine conservation organisations. He will also discuss how Hope Farm both informs and demonstrates the Farm Wildlife six-point plan to assist in nature recovery’s success.
  • Shelley Abbott, the Facilitator of Fair to Nature certification scheme, will talk of her 11 years’ of experience with the scheme – from its origins as Conservation Grade through its fresh re-launch early next year. Fair to Nature certification provides rewards to farmers for nature-friendly farming, helps consumers identify and support wildlife-friendly produce, and allows producers and supermarkets to market their business.
  • Chris Corrigan, Policy Co-ordinator at the Butterfly Conservation Trust, will talk about the importance of farmland for butterfly species, and their integral part of the farmed system.

Register for the event here

Tuesday 24th November 2020 at 6:30pm

Soil Health and Cover Crops

  • Rob Field, Senior Conservation Scientist from the RSPB, shares Hope Farm’s findings across 5-years of research into the use of cover crops and compost. This includes the results of looking at changes to bird populations, invertebrate communities, soil health and crop yields.
  • Steve Corbett, Agrii Trials Manager, will discuss their organisation’s current research in cover crops, using them to improve soil health and crops in heavy clay soils while increasing profitability. Agrii were one of the key sources of advice at the start of the Hope Farm trials, and this webinar is a chance for participants to draw from their knowledge base.
  • Ian Gould, Director of Oakbank Game and Conservation seed and advice, will share their expertise on using cover crops for the long-term health of soils and the farm business.
  • All three participants will be joined by Martin Lines, Chair of the Nature Friendly Farming Network, and Hope Farm’s contractor, and Georgie Bray, Hope Farm Manager.

Register for the event here

Wednesday 9th December 2020 at 6:30pm

Ecological Intensification

  • Ben Woodcock, ASSIST’s Principle Investigator, will talk about the different projects within ASSIST, including the infield project at Hope Farm and 14 other participant farms. ASSIST is a six-year, £12 million research programme that, with support from the farming industry, aims to meet the challenge of feeding growing populations without causing unacceptable environmental damage.
  • Georgie Bray, Hope Farm Manager, will be offering up practical experiences of Hope Farm’s participation in the project, including establishment and management of wildflower margins to maximise benefits to the farm wildlife and crop growth, including the use of cover crops.
  • Callum Weir, Farm Manager of the Wimpole National Trust’s organic farmed estate, will discuss their biodiversity survey results and how biodiversity supports the system. A big focus is on the holistic view of habits in the fields (soil health) as well as around the edge habitats. This is not just with hedgerows and margins, but feed sources, pond restoration and pollen resources as well.

Register for the event here

January 2021 (date TBD)

Insecticide-free farming

  • Martin Lines, UK Chair of the Nature Friendly Farming Network and contractor of environmental habitats and cropping at Hope Farm, talks about how insecticide-free farming has
  • Callum Weir, Farm Manager at the National Trust’s Wimpole Estate, will then discuss their management across the 589-hectare organic farm and how they manage insecticide-free farming in an organic setting.

February 2021 (date TBD)

Future Funding for Wildlife Friendly Farming

  • Tom Lancaster, Head of RSPB Agricultural Policy, will discuss the RSPB’s recommendations to policymakers. Wildlife-friendly farming can turn a profit at least as good as conventional farms, and policies offer an opportunity to support this kind of farming on a national scale.
  • Martin Lines, Hope Farm’s contractor and chair of the Nature Friendly Farming Network, will then talk about NFFN’s policy recommendations, and about how to secure funding for wildlife-friendly farming.
  • Sarah Brockless, Oakbank’s Ecologist, Woodland and Farm Conservation Advisor and previous senior advisor for Natural England,will discuss future opportunities for sustainable management of the farm business, in the future.

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Image credit: Peter Dean/Agripicture Images