Anyone part of a Farm Cluster?

matthewizod

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Chipping norton
We are currently in the process of setting up a cluster with some other local farmers and have formed a steering group of interested members to get the ball rolling.

Is anyone on here part of a local farming group/cluster that focuses on landscape scale environment projects? If so would you be happy to share any positives or negatives with me to share with our steering group? If your not part of a group, what would make you interested in joining ?

Thanks
 

Poncherello1976

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Oxfordshire
We started one on the other side of the county to you towards the end of 2019. Can't really comment much more than that as Covid has put a halt to it for the time being. We have a WhatsApp group where people can share their ideas and thoughts. Hopefully later in the year it will get back up and running again. We are all based in the river Thame Catchment area. Its is quite interesting hearing peoples ideas and thoughts and trying to do something collective on a scale that might bring benefits to the area. It is also quite a good move if you are looking at starting a Countryside Stewardship agreement as well.
 

Campani

Member
not part of one, but have been to an event hosted by the Marlborough downs one. Seemed very successful. the success seemed to be driven by a having an employed advisor who managed paperwork, getting groups together, what should go in the schemes etc. Took the pressure off the individual farms and was paid for by the scheme.
 

Brisel

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
North Yorkshire
Not at the moment, but my previous job was managing a farm in the Martin Down super cluster https://www.farmerclusters.com/case-studies/martin-down-supercluster/

We didn't take the option of Natural England's Facillitation Fund. It seemed very bureaucratic and most of the money was spent filling their forms in. We opted to put £1/ha/year each and tapped some private charitable funding too. The idea was that this was bottom up farmer led, not reaching out for every grant available though many of us did manage to get help in finding grants for pond digging etc through the people & advisors attracted to these big projects.

Without a good chairperson, you will struggle. We had a very good one that everyone respected. Go and meet the chairs and facilitators for other local groups to find out what traps to avoid and what worked for them.

Groom the local contacts for FWAG, GWCT, Natural England, especially Catchment Sensitive Farming officers who will give some of their time for free. What started as a loose group of farmers who were used to being suspicious of one another became a good meeting for banter & some competitiveness for how many of X or Y species they had. We took it in turns to host farm walks. It didn't matter that one was more interested in butterflies than the neighbour who was more interested in grey partridge, we had a common purpose.

PM me if you want more detail.
 

Brisel

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
North Yorkshire
not part of one, but have been to an event hosted by the Marlborough downs one. Seemed very successful. the success seemed to be driven by a having an employed advisor who managed paperwork, getting groups together, what should go in the schemes etc. Took the pressure off the individual farms and was paid for by the scheme.
The Marlborough Downs group was the first farmer led cluster. I thoroughly recommend talking to them & Jemma Batten, their facilitator.

 

Spud

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
YO62
Not at the moment, but my previous job was managing a farm in the Martin Down super cluster https://www.farmerclusters.com/case-studies/martin-down-supercluster/

We didn't take the option of Natural England's Facillitation Fund. It seemed very bureaucratic and most of the money was spent filling their forms in. We opted to put £1/ha/year each and tapped some private charitable funding too. The idea was that this was bottom up farmer led, not reaching out for every grant available though many of us did manage to get help in finding grants for pond digging etc through the people & advisors attracted to these big projects.

Without a good chairperson, you will struggle. We had a very good one that everyone respected. Go and meet the chairs and facilitators for other local groups to find out what traps to avoid and what worked for them.

Groom the local contacts for FWAG, GWCT, Natural England, especially Catchment Sensitive Farming officers who will give some of their time for free. What started as a loose group of farmers who were used to being suspicious of one another became a good meeting for banter & some competitiveness for how many of X or Y species they had. We took it in turns to host farm walks. It didn't matter that one was more interested in butterflies than the neighbour who was more interested in grey partridge, we had a common purpose.

PM me if you want more detail.

It seems you'd be an ideal chairman for such a group in North Yorkshire........!!!!!!!!!!!
 

Brisel

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
North Yorkshire
It seems you'd be an ideal chairman for such a group in North Yorkshire........!!!!!!!!!!!
My leadership skills aren’t that great! Always the bridesmaid, never the bride...

Plus no one knows me around here yet, other than some of the folk in here. In time I will get to meet all the neighbours and I will float the idea.

I need to find out what the environmental priorities are for this area too, beyond the basic nitrates, phosphates, pollinators etc. Most of my land is not even in a NVZ.
 

Chae1

Member
Location
Aberdeenshire
The local river authority have a collaborative project to get everyone who farms next to river and tributaries in the AECS.

They complete the applications free of charge. Applicants receive more points because it's a group effort between lots of farmers.
 

Boysground

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Wiltshire
Ive been asked to join one here. Looks like they have been quite successful over the last few years. Would definitely be a few bonus points for my milk contract.

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matthewizod

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Chipping norton
Ive been asked to join one here. Looks like they have been quite successful over the last few years. Would definitely be a few bonus points for my milk contract.

Bg
That's one point I'm wondering if it would be any benefit to selling products in the local area and to merchants. Can we see a premium coming from such groups or is that wishful thinking?
Not at the moment, but my previous job was managing a farm in the Martin Down super cluster https://www.farmerclusters.com/case-studies/martin-down-supercluster/

We didn't take the option of Natural England's Facillitation Fund. It seemed very bureaucratic and most of the money was spent filling their forms in. We opted to put £1/ha/year each and tapped some private charitable funding too. The idea was that this was bottom up farmer led, not reaching out for every grant available though many of us did manage to get help in finding grants for pond digging etc through the people & advisors attracted to these big projects.

Without a good chairperson, you will struggle. We had a very good one that everyone respected. Go and meet the chairs and facilitators for other local groups to find out what traps to avoid and what worked for them.

Groom the local contacts for FWAG, GWCT, Natural England, especially Catchment Sensitive Farming officers who will give some of their time for free. What started as a loose group of farmers who were used to being suspicious of one another became a good meeting for banter & some competitiveness for how many of X or Y species they had. We took it in turns to host farm walks. It didn't matter that one was more interested in butterflies than the neighbour who was more interested in grey partridge, we had a common purpose.

PM me if you want more detail.
Did the cluster help with your farming business or was it purely for knowledge exchange ?

The Marlborough Downs group was the first farmer led cluster. I thoroughly recommend talking to them & Jemma Batten, their facilitator.

Thanks for the recommendation, Jemma was very helpful with some questions that I had.
 

Brisel

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
North Yorkshire
That's one point I'm wondering if it would be any benefit to selling products in the local area and to merchants. Can we see a premium coming from such groups or is that wishful thinking?

Did the cluster help with your farming business or was it purely for knowledge exchange ?


Thanks for the recommendation, Jemma was very helpful with some questions that I had.
I’m sure there is a marketing bonus to be had, especially if there is a bit of a digital footprint for the cluster, some photos and a good story. No one in my cluster was running a retail or hospitality business. I’m not sure landscape projects like this are widespread and well known enough to add financial value beyond some free help from those who would gain some publicity from it.

Did it help my business? Yes, but it created more work. Nice work and great PR, plus a far better understanding from non farming locals which has a value in an industry that needs to sell itself to the public/electorate/taxpayers far better.
 

Brisel

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
North Yorkshire
I don't know how this will work in the future, but CS applications from a member of a facilitated cluster got a 15% uplift in points (though not £) where CS was going to be competitive with contracts awarded to those who offered the most benefits/points. In reality, CS was undersubscribed so all viable applications were approved. Ironically, because we didn't opt for the NE Facilitation Fund, we didn't meet the criteria for the points uplift though we made sure that the senior team at NE were well aware that we were applying.

From memory, most of the cluster members weren't in stewardship schemes when we set the group up, though a few went into Mid Tier in the last couple of years. Many features were voluntarily left over from old ELS schemes when the occupiers remembered why they had taken that land out of production in the first place! Some were used for EFA but most were hanging on for a bigger prize with ELMS. I'm glad we went into Higher Tier CS in 2018 as delays to ELM rollout means we would be through the 5 years before the new scheme starts.
 

Brisel

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
North Yorkshire
That’s the one. The Wylye is only 30 yards from my back door. As I said before it would be very handy with my current milk contract if I was a member. They are starting to take environmental work seriously.
JS is top man.

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JS? Chairman? As in the chap just downstream who has an AD plant?
 

Sid

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
South Molton
Cluster in a valley locally.
Incomers wanting to keep the valley "unspoilt"
With their menage, large extensions, big garages,buying up any land to keep its ownership "in the valley".
Wanting to bring everyone together to better the environment whilst sitting on a local environment group and getting paid.

Groups of farmers great idea.
 

Rejuvenating swards: Which option is best?

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Written by Brian McDonnell

Maintaining grass quality during mid-season grazing is important. Farmers can maintain quality by entering ideal grazing covers of 1,300 – 1,500kg DM/ha, and grazing down to a residual of 4cm every rotation.

If you are now in a situation where cows are not cleaning out paddocks as well as they should be, leading to the development of steamy grass within the sward, here are some options.

Common options for rejuvenating swards include:

  1. Take a silage cut, probably into bales, remove the material and start again with the aftermath...
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