20/3/2017

March update from the Allerton Project - visitors flocking in

Allerton1By Amelia Woolford, Project Development Officer 

It’s been a busy few weeks at the Allerton Project with visitors flocking in left, right and centre. We started off with a Waitrose dairy farmer group who braved the gale force winds of storm Doris to learn about integrated farm management (IFM).

This was followed by a Waitrose Farming Partnership visit; these dedicated suppliers of eggs, milk, meat and poultry work with Waitrose to ensure each supply chain has a sustainable farming system that considers and delivers for the farmed environment. The Allerton Project team are delighted to be working with Waitrose, Kings and the WFP farmers to help deliver practical on farm solutions. 

We’ve also had our first BASIS Conservation Management course of the year, with a wide-ranging group of candidates, including GWCT advisors, water companies, agronomists, conservationists, wildlife trusts and farmers.

The course is a great opportunity for knowledge exchange, with several of the candidates commenting on the appreciation they have gained for farmers and the amount of work they do for caring for the environment. They must comply with a plethora of regulations, ensuring best practise is followed day to day, whether this is through buffer strips, pesticide handling or hedge management. This course can count towards the BASIS diploma in agronomy. 

Allerton2The project has also launched an annual series of training courses, the first of which was our Best Practise Game Management course. Austin Weldon (GWCT Game and Wildlife Advisor) who is based in Loddington delivered the course and said;

“The course is crucial for the future of sustainable game shoots, it aims to give information to anyone who works with game, from estate owners, farmers and part time keepers, so they can achieve successful management outcomes”.

Austin has also been running 15 snaring courses across the country to ensure that predator control is carried out according to all relevant legal requirements and best practice codes. 

We were happy to host the ‘seeing is believing’ visit from Business in the Community, which is part of The Prince’s Responsible Business Network. This programme takes a select group of business leaders into the heart of communities and businesses to use the power of experiential learning to inspire and challenge participants by offering real-life insight into some of the most pressing social and environmental issues. The group came to see how both productivity and sustainability in food production can be delivered. 

Meanwhile, on the farm, spring has sprung. The Longwool lambs have been put out to grass and the spraying and fertiliser regime has finally begun, after some delays to the programme due to poor weather.

Allerton3

The team have also been out with their chainsaws, tidying up and clearing blocked roads after the destruction of storm Doris. The first of four partridge counts has also been completed to contribute to the Interreg Partridge Project which is looking at how new management solutions can improve biodiversity and build up baseline data. There are plans to integrate some new Partridge friendly mixes into our HLS wild bird seed options.

Allerton Recycling closed its operations after 10 years, clearing the farm of recycled agricultural material will keep us busy for a few months! 

In other news, the Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC) is now complete with the results due to be released on 6th April. There are also plans to expand the count and reach out to farmers in European countries.

Dr. Alastair Leake attended the Kellogg’s farmers study meeting, touring the Agroforestry enterprise at Blue Bell farms, by Steven Briggs, Jake Freestone reports.

Phil Jarvis attended a Kellogg’s recruitment day at Heygates Mill, also a visit to the RSPB’s Hope Farm with the NFU Environment Forum and attended his first meeting on the National Crops Board. Lastly, Dr. Crotty and Prof. Stoate have flown over to Crete for the annual Soil Care conference, more to follow... 

In the coming weeks we are looking forward to our school visits, spring drilling, a soils day and our woodland training course in April. 

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