Applications open for Cotswolds Farms Biodiversity Farm Innovation Visit (FIV)
February 16, 2023
The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) is offering farmers the opportunity to travel to England to learn about innovative approaches to enhancing on farm biodiversity.
The College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) will lead a Farm Innovation Visit (FIV), in partnership with Farm Ed, to the Northeast Cotswolds Farmer cluster, the FAI research farms near Oxford, Whittingdon Lodge farm in the Cotswolds hills, and mixed arable and grassland farms at Conygree farm and Farm Ed itself.
Farm Ed is a not for profit organisation promoting agroecology and regenerative farming. They have featured prominently in press and in TV and are leading UK experts and providers of policy advice. The demonstration farm is a diverse mix of low input arable and temporary grass, and organic permanent pasture with trial plots of sainfoin, herbal ley, barley, heritage wheat, wild bird seed and various cover crops. The grassland is managed by mob grazing with sheep and cattle to promote soil health and pasture diversity. Additional features include a micro dairy, natural flood management scheme, a whole farm Countryside Stewardship Scheme, heritage orchard, tree planting, wildflower margins and an apiary.
FAI farms formerly Oxford University research farm will demonstrate a commercial beef project with environmental & economic benefits called Adaptive Multi Paddock (AMP) grazing. This is a four-year grazing project on heavy land focused on improving resilience, biodiversity and soil health with a reduced requirement for reseeding and winter housing. The project won the 2021 Sustainable Food and Farming Award.
There will be opportunity to meet other members of the NE Cotswolds Farmers Cluster who between their 70 members manage 22,000 ha. The group aims to manage land in a viable and sustainable way in response to changes within the English farm support schemes. Whilst the landscape, soils and climate are different to home, the approaches to farming and their track record in managing land for multiple objectives will give the visit participants the chance to focus on innovative ways of maintaining, restoring, and enhancing biodiversity that can be adapted to Northern Irish farms. Applications are invited from one member or employee of a farm business that has over 3 ha’s, is over 18 years old on the application closing date and not in full-time education. Fifteen places are available on this trip and these will be allocated with preference given to those who meet the criteria. Should there be sufficient interest it is proposed that subsequent trips will take place in 2023. To increase the benefits arising from the study tour, all applicants must identify a group of farmers to share their findings with upon their return.
The Farm Innovation Visit Scheme, which is part of the NI Rural Development Programme will cover the costs associated with setting up the visit, accommodation, travel outside of Northern Ireland and meals when in Great Britain. Participants will be expected to meet any additional costs, including farm relief and travel insurance.
Farmers interested in participating can find out more details and complete an application from the www.cafre.ac.uk/FIV .
Applications close at 4:00pm on Monday 27th February 2023.