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Reward for lifelong passion for conservation

Conservation and farming have been lifelong passions for the winner of the English Nature Farming for Wildlife Award, at the NFU’s Farming Excellence Awards, announced today.

The award recognises achievements in nature conservation and provides funds for further wildlife projects on the winning farms.

The winner, Tom Meikle’s interest in wildlife and conservation began in childhood when his father began planting trees on the family farm, work that Tom has continued.

Tom is a local committee member of the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG), hosts visits by conservationists to his farm and is committed to Farm Assurance and the Voluntary Initiative.

Tom produces sugar beet, salad onions, dwarf beans, barley and wheat and integrated farming practice is at the heart of the business. His farm also provides a haven for otters, badgers and a wide variety of birds.

Tom keeps meticulous records of crop rotations and chooses varieties with disease resistance and use-thresholds for pest control. River meadows are alternately grazed with sheep and cattle to prevent parasite build up.

Tom’s next project is to create a reed bed system which will restore an old pond, reduce pollution and encourage wildlife.

Tom receives a certificate, a brass farm gate plaque a prize of £1,000 and up to £6,000 to help fund future conservation projects.

NFU President Tim Bennett said: “Tom has proved that caring for the British countryside and wildlife can go hand in hand with running a profitable and diverse farm business and is a worthy winner.”

Chair of English Nature, Sir Martin Doughty said: “I would like to congratulate Mr Miekle on winning the English Nature Farming for Wildlife Award.

“His success in creating so many new wildlife habitats, and his commitment and enthusiasm for conservation, are an example to us all.

“This environmentally sensitive approach to farm management demonstrates how wildlife friendly farming and running a profitable farm business, can go hand in hand.”

The runner-up, Martin Baird of Red Hall in Cumbria receives £200 as recognition of conservation work, which includes restoring hedgerows and managing the fodder beet on his dairy farm to provide cover for birds. Martin recently purchased 22 acres which he plans to manage as a wetland habitat and will also receive up to £3,000 to help with further conservation work on his farm.

The award is also supported by Country Life magazine.



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