|9 owl chicks from just 2 nest boxes wins Chris the trophy!|
Did you by any chance start off your day by eating a bowl of Jordans breakfast cereal this morning? Because if you did, then you were eating Conservation Grade produced grain such as oats! So who exactly is Conservation Grade and what differences would you see if you walked onto a farm growing crops for them?
Farmers who want to become part of Conservation Grade have to have at least 10% of the farm in wildlife habitats including a minimum of 4% in flowers and 2% in crops that produce seed for birds to feed on over winter. The farm (and farmer!) then have to go through a period of assessment to make sure that they are complying with Conservation Grade’s various protocols, after which they eventually become a producer, thereby gaining a premium for the grain produced.
I personally think that this is a superb way to encourage active habitat management in the “wider countryside”, because farmers really value their wildlife and the habitats they live in, not just because they like to see them on the farm, but also because they are an integral part of the business and its profitability.
Although I work full time for the GWCT, I am contracted out by Conservation Grade to train and assess their growers, so that they get the very best out of the habitats that they are creating or improving. What is more it seems to really work, as recent research work has shown that Conservation Grade farms have up to 40% more bees and produce more Barn Owl chicks than conventionally run farms!
So, why not start your day by supporting wildlife – eat a bowl of Jordans breakfast cereal and feel good about yourself for the rest of the day!!
|Conservation Grade farmers on a training day|