In England, Direct Payments are being gradually phased out over a seven year transition period. 

Table taken from the Agricultural Transition Document (DEFRA 2020). 

DEFRA have developed a BPS payment reduction calculator to help you prepare your farm business for the reduction in basic payments.

Chris Seabridge presented the Whitegrove Trophy, for the Farm Conservation Competition to Mr & Mrs Tim Parton at the Staffordshire & Birmingham Agricultural Society Annual Dinner.

This years winner of the White Grove Trophy Farm Conservation Competition is Tim Parton, Farm Manager at Breewood Park Farm, South Staffordshire. The trophy is awarded annually to the farmer in Staffordshire who has done the most to encourage environmental management on their farm alongside successful commercial activity. The award was judged by Michael Williams, Director of the Staffordshire & Birmingham Agricultural Society who jointly sponsor the competition with Chris Seabridge & Associates.

Impressed by Mr Parton’s strong environmental approach and clear consideration for farm profitability, the judge commented “The farm ethos is to work with nature and to produce a biologically rich soil which enables Tim to eliminate the use of insecticides, fungicides and to significantly reduce the application of nitrogen. Not only is the soil improved, but also the wildlife on the farm, with high numbers of red list species including skylarks and linnets being observed.”

Chris Seabridge was delighted to present the award to Mr Parton at the Staffordshire and Birmingham Agricultural Society Annual dinner. Mr Parton said “It has always been my plan to farm in harmony with nature, and to prove that profitable production can be achieved whilst regenerating the whole ecosystem on the farm”.

Following their success last year in the Whitegrove Trophy, the Staffordshire farming wildlife and environment competition, Kinver farming family F C Osborn and Son have entered this year’s national FWAG competition for the Silver Lapwing trophy, sponsored for the 9th year by Waitrose.

Martin Osborn and his sons James and William won last year’s county trophy for their work to integrate commercial farming with providing valuable environments for wildlife. They farm around 650 acres of hilly land with variable soil types at Union Hall Farm near Kinver, with mainly cattle and arable crops. As well assessing work for biodiversity, judges for the Silver Lapwing trophy will consider other areas of the farm including the approach to conserving natural resources through good soil management, the protection of water quality and efficient use of water and energy. On the arable side of Union Hall Farm many options are employed including a substantial area of wild bird food whilst on the livestock side much good work is going on to produce quality beef from a species rich grassland. The judges were very impressed with the degree of integration between the features that had been created and those that were of a more permanent nature.

This is the 40th year of The Silver Lapwing. It is an award for farmers who have demonstrated a real commitment to species and habitat conservation whilst showing that they can integrate their environmental management within their overall farm business. Added to this, where relevant, is the need to understand and conserve the historic aspects of the farm.

The national FWAG Association represents local Farming & Wildlife Advisory Groups (FWAGs) across the UK in partnership with the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) and Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF). These groups have helped British farmers for over four decades, providing trusted, independent, environmental advice. Chris Seabridge and Associates represent FWAG in the West Midlands.

Charlie Morgan is a national grassland specialist who worked for IGER/IBERS for 22 years where he helped develop new grass varieties and grazing methods to benefit UK agriculture. He is recognised as a leading expert in grassland management and will be available to offer specialist advice to farmers in the catchment groups facilitated by Chris Seabridge. Mr Morgans will be in the Blithfield catchment on Thursday 7th September 2017 from 12.00 to 3.00pm, at The Blythe Inn, Booth Lane, Nr Kingstone, ST18 0LT, and in the Lonco Brook catchment that evening from 7.00 to 9.30 pm at Offley Grove Farm, Adbaston, ST20 0QB.

Both events will include advice on soil and grassland management including re-seeding, effective weed control and improving soil condition as well as ways to rejuvenate swards in pastures and meadows with discussion of the different types of machinery to tackle the various grassland management issues and advice on selecting and using machinery for the best results.

The Blythe Inn event will include a working demonstration of a flat lifter (by kind permission of Tim Pratt) whilst the event at Offley Grove farm will offer the chance for farmers to bring along an intact spade full of soil for assessment of the condition of soil under their grassland.

The events are for members of the farmer groups in the Blithfield Reservoir and Lonco Brook catchments, but non-members who farm land in the relevant catchment are very welcome.

If you would like to attend one of the events please book your place(s) by telephone 01785 710564 or email by Monday 4th September 2017

Chris is the facilitator for the Blithfield Reservoir farmers catchment group: he is working with Nina Yiannoukos of South Staffordshire Water (SSW) to set up training for group members who need certificates on field and knapsack sprayers. Farmers can no longer use ‘grandfather rights’ to use sprayers but must have proper training to use modern sprays safely, protecting people and water. SSW has contributed to the cost so that up to ten members of the Group can take the course this October. Nina said that research shows the water company can save money by working with farmers to reduce pollution in drinking water catchments. This positive initiative benefits farmers, the environment and customers of South Staffs Water.

Chris Seabridge and Associates organised two engaging meetings supported by the Campaign for the Farmed Environment and considering ‘Water on your Farm’: looking to improve resource protection as part of viable farm businesses. CFE aims to help farmers to use the right measure in the right place at the right time and demonstrate the benefits that farmers provide to the environment.

Our first event was an evening meeting in Shifnal to look at the practicalities and benefits of a switch to controlled traffic farming (CTF). Speakers included Tim Chamen, international expert on CTF, and Nigel Adams, a local farmer who is implementing the technique. An interested audience of local farmers enjoyed a stimulating discussion around Nigel’s experiences with the technique, informed by Tim’s expertise. Ken Downward of Natural England backed up the CFE messages by providing information on grants available to support changes that will improve water resource protection.

The lead speaker for the second evening was Nick Tilt, a LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) farmer from near Ludlow, who talked about his multi-faceted farm business which includes egg-layers and heifer rearing supported by a successful arable enterprise on around 220 hectares as well as diversification into related enterprises such as importing dairy equipment and letting property: all aimed at ensuring the core business is viable and sustainable. Nick explained his farming philosophy, which is based on keeping the land in good heart and the bottom line healthy. His approach to soil management and care for the environment means that improvements in soil and water quality follow naturally.  He told the audience how LEAF fits in with his approach to sustainable farming and helps to improve his returns. He has made good use of grants for environmental improvement, working with Severn Trent Water and with Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) to make it easier to implement the improvements he wanted. Ben Young of Severn Trent Water and Jo Baird from CSF explained more about grant availability.

David Dale of B.J. Dale & Co Ltd, 2015 winners of the Whitegrove Farm Conservation trophy, is kindly hosting the annual Chris Seabridge Associates farm walk on 22nd June, 7.00 pm, at Bagots Park Estate, WS15 3ER

The Estate covers over 850 acres of predominantly arable land, with diversification into a micro (Freedom) brewery and a thriving commercial shoot. The farm is in Entry Level Stewardship and also has a Woodland Grant Scheme. With over 20 acres of recently-planted woodland, which has enhanced conservation and sporting interest, the estate is ensuring that future generations will still see this beautiful countryside at its best.

Agriculture is facing many economic challenges and at the same time is asked to deliver outcomes for the environment. This farm walk is an opportunity to see how a successful business has utilised agri-environment schemes for environmental, agricultural and sporting benefit.

The Whitegrove Trophy (Farm Conservation) is kindly sponsored by Staffordshire & Birmingham Agricultural Society. The competition asesses how environmental management is successfully integrated alongside commercial farming.

Jane James has joined forces with Chris and Nigel, working part time with Chris Seabridge and Associates. After leaving Harper Adams Jane started her career in the family farming business, specialising in pig husbandry, before joining the National Rivers Authority and the Environment Agency where she worked on town and country planning as well as permitting and agricultural policy. She left the EA in 2011 and now works as an independent agricultural and environmental consultant. FACTS qualified and a member of CIWEM, she brings experience of environmental regulation of farming, especially intensive agriculture, as well as a broad knowledge across farming and a background in sustainable development.

The Whitegrove Trophy

On 4th November, Andrew Roberts was presented with the Whitegrove Trophy at the Staffordshire and Birmingham Agricultural Society Annual Awards Dinner.

J & J Roberts run a 390 ha, mainly arable enterprise based at Clive farm, Pattingham near Wolverhampton. Basis trained, Andrew does all the on-farm agronomy and has a keen interest in farmland birds encouraging several pairs of lapwing to breed on the holding.

The award is given annually to the farmer in Staffordshire who, in the opinion of the judge, has done most to encourage conservation on his/her farm alongside commercial activity. The winner receives a prestigious lapwing trophy together with £200 prize kindly sponsored by the Staffordshire and Birmingham Agricultural Society.

If you interested in entering the 2015 competition, please contact us.

Presentation of the Whitegrove Trophy
From left to right; Roger Owen, Natural England (judge), Nigel Baskerville, Sarah Roberts, Andrew Roberts and Chris Seabridge