The Farming Investment Fund (FIF) provides grants to improve productivity and bring environmental benefits. The FIF is made up of two separate funds:

  •  Farming Equipment and Technology Fund (for grants between £2,000 and £25,000
  • Farming Transformation Fund (for grants between £35,000 and £500,000)

The application window is between November 16th 2021 – 7th January 2022.

Full details of how to apply for these grants can be found in the guidance available on the .gov website by clicking on the button below. 

This month, local South Staffordshire Soil Farmer of the Year and winner of our  Whitegrove Trophy  Competition, Tim Parton spoke to Janet Hughes, director of DEFRA’s Future Farming and Countryside programme about his passion for sustainable soil management on his farm.

“Soil is such a valuable resource and we can’t afford to abuse it”

Tim is the farm manager at Breewood Park Farm, South Staffordshire (300ha).

An arable farmer, Tim uses a no-till system, brews nitrogen fixing bacteria and regularly monitors plant health and nutrition using methods including sap testing. This has significantly reduced the amount of inorganic fertiliser, fungicides and pesticides that are used on the farm. Not only has this  improved soil health it has also considerably improved crop yields.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

 

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”.

This year’s winner of the Whitegrove Trophy award is Mr John Billington of Adbaston Farm.

He will receive the Silver Lapwing trophy, now in its 41st year, to celebrate his success at managing a commercial farm whilst integrating conservation efforts into his farming business.

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 nigel@chrisseabridge.co.uk 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.


Enthusiastic members of Lonco Brook farmer’s catchment group spent a pleasant evening on the farm of group Chair Nick Galbraith on 3rd July. They came to view his Countryside Stewardship scheme options and discuss the ins and outs of the scheme with Nick and with Chris Seabridge. Nick has established a practical scheme that contributes to business income, makes the farm look attractive and helps support wildlife and game birds on the land, including English partridge. He explained how the scheme helps his farming business, whilst Chris summarised the do’s and don’ts for successful management of the various options. Members found the evening very useful and will be looking seriously at using the scheme themselves.

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Farmers from the Lonco Brook catchment met up to launch a new group that will work to improve the environment around them. Fifteen farmers attended the initial meeting of the group on 12 December 2016 and heard Chris Seabridge outline the challenges he sees facing farmers in managing land to meet consumer and social demands whilst maintaining viable businesses. He explained his belief that farmers need to organise themselves to meet these challenges and that this group, with support from Natural England, offers them an opportunity to get started.

Natural England has provided funding support to farmer groups, also known as farmer clusters, who will work together to achieve aims wider than the boundaries of their farms. Severn Trent Water are also strongly supportive of groups based in their drinking water safeguard zones. Both bodies provide grants to farmers and both came along to support the meeting and tell group members about the grants available. Farmers heard presentations from Severn Trent Water explaining the importance of the catchment for drinking water supply and the grant schemes they have available to help reduce diffuse pollution from agricultural land whilst Ken Downward explained the Catchment Sensitive Farming grants available from Natural England.

Nick Galbraith volunteered to become Chair of the group and will work with his steering group, Tim Belcher and Piers Bratton, together with Chris to develop a programme of events that will help farmers acheive the group’s aims.

The Lonco Brook catchment group has 16 members farming 2352 hectares, who aim to reduce the losses of nutrients and pesticides from their land as well as to enhance habitats and wildlife. They hope to expand by signing up other farmers in the catchment.