By developing co-operation amongst land managers and connecting individual farms, this important programme aims to increase the standard and scale of conservation management throughout the area and beyond.
The group was first set up through the Countryside Stewardship facilitation fund in 2016 but is now fully supported by the AONB Partnership. It brings together farmers, foresters, and other land managers, to improve the local natural environment at a landscape scale.
Originally concentrated in the Coly, Axe, and Umborne valleys, this group of 69 local farms now welcomes all farms within the AONB.
Members meet monthly, depending upon the challenges of the farming calendar and identify the areas they wish to develop in or learn more about.
The group have identified their main priorities to be improving water quality, increasing biodiversity and reducing flooding.
- Increase the standard and scale of conservation management throughout the area and beyond.
- Support our farming community to encourage an increase in the resilience of nature-friendly sustainable farm businesses, which in turn contribute to a more thriving local economy.
- Offer workshops, training and advice.
- 2016 – Project start date
Workshops & Events
A variety of formats and topics including:
Manure Management and Grassland Soil Compaction aimed at tackling water pollution and run-off issues within the Facilitation area.
Getting value from your Hedgerows
looking at economic, woodfuel and wildlife potential of farm hedges, this also included an equipment demonstration.
Farm walks, sharing best practice and practical advice have also proved popular.
On request from our farmer-led steering group we have added sessions to the programme, beyond the original environmental remit, which we are delivering with local experts.
Farm safety day and book keeping sessions have been organised.
The use of alternative forage crops such as red clover, lucerne, kale and chicory can improve livestock performance, nitrogen use efficiency and animal health.
With the hot, dry summers of 2019 and 2022 our alternative forage crop trials proved very timely and generated much interest. The trial area itself being a highly visible field of green in a parched landscape.
This mix of grasses and herbs root more deeply in the soil so can access moisture and nutrients not available to pure grass mixes. This has encouraged the much wider adoption of these crops.
East Devon Farmers, foresters and other land managers working together to improve the local natural environment at a landscape scale.
PROJECT OUTCOMES - SO FAR
- We have run Mid Tier Stewardship workshops and sessions which have encouraged and supported 43 members to apply to agri-environment schemes (that is 62% of the members) for assistance with enhancing the environment and landscape of the AONB.
- This group is the focus for the Princes’ Farm Resilience Programme which we are supporting providing business advice to family farms to improve their viability and long term future.
- So far we have learnt the importance of having nurtured strong links with our farming community and the importance of listening to the needs of the people who manage our outstanding landscape.
A Coordination Group, led by the AONB Unit and made up of a cross-section of farmers, who advise on suitable events and activities, ensuring its relevance to the farming community.
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