Cumbrian farmer takes Tye Award for conservation

Crowds at the Great Yorkshire Show
Crowds at the Great Yorkshire Show
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A farmer from Cumbria has emerged as this year’s winner of the Tye Trophy, which recognises initiatives geared to conservation and environmental improvement in commercial farming.

James Turner manages Aikbank Farm at Calthwaite, Penrith, on behalf of the Harris family, its owners for 130 years.

The judges praised the farm, which has 230 dairy cows, 850 ewes, cereals and hill cattle and pigs, for the way conservation schemes had been built into its agricultural enterprises.

Nigel Pulling, chief executive of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, said the award demonstrated that environmental improvement could be achieved in a commercial setting.

He added: “Given that the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, has said that future subsidies will no longer be based on land ownership but will have to be earned through improvements in the quality of soil, water and biodiversity, this could not be more topical.”

Aikbank Farm was praised for its field corner management, unsprayed headlands, pollen and nectar mixes, wild bird mixes, hedgerow management and stone wall rebuilding.

The lowland heath, which is a designated site of special scientific interest and was managed for 22 years under the Countryside Steward Scheme, uses Herdwick sheep and Highland cattle to control bracken.

Slurry from the dairy unit is injected into grassland and cereals, and settling ponds and reed beds are used to reduce phosphate levels in water.

The farm hosts school visits, students and the NFU annually and provides a degree of permissive access.

Lapwings are said to breeding on the site, with barn owls also benefiting.

The Yorkshire regional winners of the trophy, for which farms acrosd the North of England compete, were James Hinchliffe, of Top House Farm, Rawcliffe Bridge, East Yorkshire; Richard Murray Wells, of Ness Hall, Nunnington in North Yorkshire; and Chris Pearson, of Peacock Lodge Farm, Rotherham.

The trophy was presented by the Bill Cowling, president of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.