Wilding

Danllan

Member
Location
Sir Gar / Carms
I'm saying that we must do as much as we can i.e. to tread carefully but there is no way we won't leave a big footprint...

The public are actually collectively quite stupid and will tend to believe that their lifestyle is blameless it's all the fault of the farmers. It's up to us as an industry together with sensible environmental groups to find a balance and be honest enough to say that's all folks

I agree that hopes shouldn't be raised beyond realistic expectations. But I disagree with the notion of general stupidity - the 'common' sense, i.e. collective wisdom is often, usually, very great. Of course there will be a human footprint, but it can be much, much smaller; and, therefore, I think it should be.
 
I agree that hopes shouldn't be raised beyond realistic expectations. But I disagree with the notion of general stupidity - the 'common' sense, i.e. collective wisdom is often, usually, very great. Of course there will be a human footprint, but it can be much, much smaller; and, therefore, I think it should be.

I find the common sense is rather myopic when the public need to do something themselves they'd rather think someone should do something
 

Clive

Staff Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Lichfield
@Clive & @ollie989898 I would say you are both looking at this the wrong way round. Who cares if they were any good at farming or not? Yes, they have managed to monetize it well, but that's not what is interesting about the book or the project either.

The project has helped increase knowledge on just how complex nature is and how important it can be to restore this complexity in conservation efforts. The book is jam packed full of information on this. As a conservation ag. farmer Clive, you already have a head start on this, as you understand more than most about diversity & succession.

If you are just a practical money man, or have no interest in the natural world (it's past, present or future) it's simple, don't bother reading the book, or visiting Knepp, it's not for you.

Do we have a duty to hand down nature to the next generation, or just continue to slowly strangle it more and more as we currently seem to be doing? The government appears to be about to pour loads of money into conservation, but the experience at Knepp would suggest that at the very least, some of their schemes are misguided, is this not important? As always it's about balance, Knepp is a very valuable experiment to inform us about the most effective ways we can achieve this balance.

They haven’t really monitize it though ...... the tax payer has other than a camp site ......... and tourism isn’t farming

It doesnt work for me because it doesn’t wash its own face and that’s the acid test of a business imo

When you own 3500ac debt free and have access to large amounts of tax payers money to do this you can hardly go wrong really can you ? Especially if the best you could manage farming was 6t/ha wheat on heavy land

We should not be aiming for land use systems that depend on tax payer charity to sustain them - that’s what farmers desperately need to get away from

I fully understand it’s environmental and diversity benefit and applaud it and also agree there is lots to be learnt form what’s happened, but I see it purely as an experiment and not a blueprint for others
 
They haven’t really monitize it though ...... the tax payer has other than a camp site ......... and tourism isn’t farming

It doesnt work for me because it doesn’t wash its own face and that’s the acid test of a business imo

When you own 3500ac debt free and have access to large amounts of tax payers money to do this you can hardly go wrong really can you ? Especially if the best you could manage farming was 6t/ha wheat on heavy land

We should not be aiming for land use systems that depend on tax payer charity to sustain them - that’s what farmers desperately need to get away from

I fully understand it’s environmental and diversity benefit and applaud it and also agree there is lots to be learnt form what’s happened, but I see it purely as an experiment and not a blueprint for others

Its basically a private nature reserve funded by the state. I think if its fulfilling a role that is being of asked of it and which is seen as "needed". They're farming nature
 

Clive

Staff Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Lichfield
Its basically a private nature reserve funded by the state. I think if its fulfilling a role that is being of asked of it and which is seen as "needed". They're farming nature

I agree - but bo way the taxpayer is going to fund the entire UK becoming a nature reserve. Like the campsite its a niche thing that clearly is working well for them but like most difericatins the word NICHE is key ............. not a solution for the majority. They are also absolutely buggered if the subs stop coming , how on earth to they return that landscape to anything productive or profitable ?

As farmers we should be looking for solutions that produce food profitably with minimal environmental impact .............. without need for state aid
 
I agree - but bo way the taxpayer is going to fund the entire UK becoming a nature reserve. Like the campsite its a niche thing that clearly is working well for them but like most difericatins the word NICHE is key ............. not a solution for the majority. They are also absolutely buggered if the subs stop coming , how on earth to they return that landscape to anything productive or profitable ?

As farmers we should be looking for solutions that produce food profitably with minimal environmental impact .............. without need for state aid

But surely the whole point of it is that it is a niche. Every business is a niche really isn't it? If you didn't occupy your niche someone else would be in there!

I still think we don't have a particularly cohesive plan for wildlife in this country - don't get me wrong I realise its difficult but I think we could do so much better with a bit more joined up thinking because our wildlife is very fragmented.
 
By the way I've not read this yet but I may get round to it sometime. I'm not sure of its content but it may be of interest to those interested in the Wilding debate. (No idea if theres lots of farmer bashing or not so take heed sensitive farmers!)

image.jpg
 

Clive

Staff Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Lichfield
But surely the whole point of it is that it is a niche. Every business is a niche really isn't it? If you didn't occupy your niche someone else would be in there!

I still think we don't have a particularly cohesive plan for wildlife in this country - don't get me wrong I realise its difficult but I think we could do so much better with a bit more joined up thinking because our wildlife is very fragmented.


my issue is when people find a successful niche they become evangelical that ist the solution for all

No better example than organic food, a great niche , but if we all go organic its no longer a niche and there is no premium so we break it


Kneep isnt really a niche though - its a way of accessing lots of taxpayers sub, that's not a business IMO and its a model that UK farmers should be trying to get away from
 
my issue is when people find a successful niche they become evangelical that ist the solution for all

No better example than organic food, a great niche , but if we all go organic its no longer a niche and there is no premium so we break it


Kneep isnt really a niche though - its a way of accessing lots of taxpayers sub, that's not a business IMO

Ok I've not heard their presentation and I've only read two chapters of the book on the phone so far so I'm not qualified to say if they are purporting its a solution or not - I consider myself educated on reading it a bit though.

Lots of business' are based around taxpayers subs (and not farm business - lawyers, car manufacturers, private social enterprises, care homes) - I get that it could be vulnerable to political change but that doesn't make it less of a business, it may be altruistic but its still a business.
 

Clive

Staff Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Lichfield
Ok I've not heard their presentation and I've only read two chapters of the book on the phone so far so I'm not qualified to say if they are purporting its a solution or not - I consider myself educated on reading it a bit though.

Lots of business' are based around taxpayers subs (and not farm business - lawyers, car manufacturers, private social enterprises, care homes) - I get that it could be vulnerable to political change but that doesn't make it less of a business, it may be altruistic but its still a business.


maybe, I do get where you're coming from

but personally I wouldn't feel i was running a "proper" business if I felt dependant upon state handouts. It was that feeling that originally led me down the no till route as I wanted to get aways from running the sub dependant business that we had a decade ago
 

BobTheSmallholder

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Angus
I'm not convinced that this particular project is a good thing due to the flaws already pointed out - funded by subs - totally "manufactured" wilderness etc.

I am however a huge fan of bringing some wilderness back onto farming landscapes in the form of wildlife strips, ripariums (sp?) and strategically placed hedgerows/treelines etc. There is a lot of evidence that wildlife need all of these to be connected in order to thrive, so if every farmer along the length of a watercourse left a 6m wild strip each side that ran for many many miles and hedgerows and other areas connected to it then it would massively increase diversity without having to deny a huge plot of farmable land.

There is a lot of talk on TFF about farmers that insist on trying to make every last acre pay and so they spend silly amounts of time, money, diesel etc on attempting to crop land that would be better off being left to run wild and so increase the diversity of species in and around the farm with obvious benefits. Surely it's better to only farm 80% of your land if you actually turn a profit on it then try to make the last 20% productive and lose money on it?
 

Deereone

Member
Location
Dorset
I have just read this book (Wilding - by Isabella Tree) It was given to me by my brother so I felt obliged to start reading it.
I was expecting (as @martian was) that it would be anti farmer etc. But I was absolutely fascinated and enlightened by it.
Isabella understands the plight of the farmer only too well and has more by luck than judgement stumbled upon the interconnections of nature that are only now beginning to be understood. All power to her elbow. Don't condemn it until you have read it.

When you see the amount of grief that she has encountered from main stream farming you will appretiate what a strong woman she is.
 
Last edited:

holwellcourtfarm

Member
NFFN Member
maybe, I do get where you're coming from

but personally I wouldn't feel i was running a "proper" business if I felt dependant upon state handouts. It was that feeling that originally led me down the no till route as I wanted to get aways from running the sub dependant business that we had a decade ago
On that basis Carillion, Interserve, Serco and several others are not "proper" businesses. Probably right too.

We have land here set aside for wild bird mix without being in any "scheme". It's just party of our life view. IMHO wilding has a place in the UK. Also, it's not OUR job as farmers to "feed the world" we just produce food. What happens after that is down to politicians and the food industry (which is why so many people are hungry).
 

Dan Powell

Member
Location
Shropshire
Just finished reading Wilding and found it inspirational. In their shoes I would have done the same I think. Regarding the issue of tax payers money being wasted and there being no business case for this type of thing, I find that line of argument leaves me cold.

If everything in this world has to be justified in such terms we will soon have nothing but fields of cereals and housing estates the world over.

There must be space for wildness and to be effective these spaces must be big enough to support genuine diversity rather than the odd six metre buffer strip or hedgerow.

Insect populations in small pockets of wildlife reserves have been shown to decline/collapse in a recent well publicised study.

The evidence is mounting up all around us. Something has to be done.

https://m.huffingtonpost.com.au/ent...BhcnQ&guce_referrer_cs=HxlL3QfkPx9HJVt6_Aa1Yg
 
Last edited:
Location
Suffolk
I've just been reading Wilding by Isabella Tree, which is all about turning the 3500 acre Knepp estate over to nature, with the helping hand of a few free-range grazing animals.

TBH, I was expecting to find it all incredibly annoying, it appeared like an attention seeking opportunity for farmer bashing. However, they are farmers, who struggled to make their weald clay pay and they went into the job with eyes wide open and an awful lot of research into rewilding projects around the world. The transformation of the estate in ten years has been remarkable, not just the invasions of keynote species like nightingales, purple emperors and turtle doves, but population explosions of every sort of animal, fungus and plant, all richly interacting with each other, with an absolute minimum of help from humans.

One of the reasons that the project is so pleasing is the way information won here upsets so many of the idiotic 'single issue' options available under ELS/HLS, Countryside Stewardship etc. For instance they're finding that scrubby/shrubby landscapes are far more biodiverse and dynamic than closed canopy woodland, let alone bare pasture or arable land, yet whenever scrubland starts to form we are urged to get the flail/bulldozer out lest we lose some subsidy.

Whatever I think every farmer would get something out of reading this book. It has opened my eyes to all sorts of things that I'd half-noticed on the farm here and given me lots of ideas for farming better and cheaper whilst making the world a better place. Quite surprising really. Have I got it all wrong?

I'm half-way through. I'm really enjoying the whole mind-set. This is what my wife & I are trying to achieve all be it on just a tiny scale. Even though we're tiny we have all the benefits of abundant wild bird visitors, Bullfinches, Yellowhammers. Tweedle-tweedle birds (Skylark) nesting in our grassland. Ducks flighting in on our pond & nesting on the round straw bales, Barn owls hunting the place too. Two sorts of Pipistrelle in the big Oak tree & Newts of several kind. The wild hedges are doing well & the scrub is encroaching nicely! All from a bare plot a decade ago. Oh and grass snakes.
SS
 

martian

DD Moderator
BASE UK Member
Location
N Herts
Just rereading this thread, as I finally got to visit Knepp last weekend.

It was fascinating to see how each field had transformed itself, we walked through a series of what had been 8 acre arable fields, all left to do their own thing at much the same time, but each one had its own dominant shrub species, sallow, hawthorn, blackthorn or whatever. The martianess said it looked like Kenya (she spent some time there when she was younger), we were told that a lot of visitors from that part of the world say 'what's the big deal?' when they come to Knepp...there's thousands of square miles of country there that looks like this and in other places around the world. But not in the UK. Then we passed into a large meadow, fairly closely grazed, with storks pecking away in the sward and a bunch of ponies at the far end. This was permanent pasture before wilding and had kept its character since, despite the tamworth pigs grubbing it up etc. There was no fence, but the soil dictated what thrived, as it did in the former arable fields. There was, so far, no encroachment of shrub.

But it was the storks that settled it for me...I've always felt that what the UK needs is storks, the rest of Europe has these wonderful birds, God bless the Burrells, who are (seemingly successfully) attempting to reintroduce them (with the help of the Cotswold Wildlife Park). There was a lot of bleating in this thread about public money going to this project, what money has been paid has yielded joy and information many times its worth. There are lots of ecologists working away, learning every day about how the world actually works. The place was busy with walkers enjoying the experience, all on footpaths, with dogs on leads...and we came home feeling uplifted and rejuvenated.
 
Just rereading this thread, as I finally got to visit Knepp last weekend.

It was fascinating to see how each field had transformed itself, we walked through a series of what had been 8 acre arable fields, all left to do their own thing at much the same time, but each one had its own dominant shrub species, sallow, hawthorn, blackthorn or whatever. The martianess said it looked like Kenya (she spent some time there when she was younger), we were told that a lot of visitors from that part of the world say 'what's the big deal?' when they come to Knepp...there's thousands of square miles of country there that looks like this and in other places around the world. But not in the UK. Then we passed into a large meadow, fairly closely grazed, with storks pecking away in the sward and a bunch of ponies at the far end. This was permanent pasture before wilding and had kept its character since, despite the tamworth pigs grubbing it up etc. There was no fence, but the soil dictated what thrived, as it did in the former arable fields. There was, so far, no encroachment of shrub.

But it was the storks that settled it for me...I've always felt that what the UK needs is storks, the rest of Europe has these wonderful birds, God bless the Burrells, who are (seemingly successfully) attempting to reintroduce them (with the help of the Cotswold Wildlife Park). There was a lot of bleating in this thread about public money going to this project, what money has been paid has yielded joy and information many times its worth. There are lots of ecologists working away, learning every day about how the world actually works. The place was busy with walkers enjoying the experience, all on footpaths, with dogs on leads...and we came home feeling uplifted and rejuvenated.

I don't and never will class the project as a success. There are thousands of square miles of land kept similarly, it requires no public money. What it requires is to be left the fudge alone. It does not call for the reintroduction of now lost species and thus potentially alien species, either.

Such land should be designated as part of the national reserve and people kept the heck out of it, no dogs, no walking, no cycling, zero human disturbance and I mean zero.

We need, as a country, to decide which land will be used to produce food/fuel etc and which will be left the fudge alone.
 

martian

DD Moderator
BASE UK Member
Location
N Herts
I don't and never will class the project as a success. There are thousands of square miles of land kept similarly, it requires no public money. What it requires is to be left the fudge alone. It does not call for the reintroduction of now lost species and thus potentially alien species, either.

Such land should be designated as part of the national reserve and people kept the heck out of it, no dogs, no walking, no cycling, zero human disturbance and I mean zero.

We need, as a country, to decide which land will be used to produce food/fuel etc and which will be left the fudge alone.
Fair enough, your opinion, but surprisingly strident for someone who obviously hasn't been paying attention to what this project is about, which is not abandoning land.
 

Hindsight

Member
Location
Lincolnshire
Fair enough, your opinion, but surprisingly strident for someone who obviously hasn't been paying attention to what this project is about, which is not abandoning land.

Hi, did you get to find out if the Estate draws the full sub package. SPS then BPS and a HLS agreement. And a full low down on the eco tourism and other non ag development that might be spinning of the project.

While you may well be right with the 'education and learning' side of the project I consider it helpful to the general public to know how this is being funded. If no HLS then good for her. She is probably due the BPS - I will stretch retaining the land in Good Agricultural condition. Thoug I can think of one landowner who had to repay SPS when land in similar condition was deemed ineligible by RPA for SPS.

And what about the planned nearby housing development the Estate objects to. And ideas on where those houses should be located?

In meantime I shall shop in the lower end supermarkets such as Lidl and Morrisons. If the likes of Knebb are the future as planned by UK government I assume my family vittals will come from outside the UK in future.

Best wishes, J
 

New Fuel Supplier On The Way

  • 276
  • 2
Farmdeals is very pleased to announce that Exswift Limited will soon be joining our digital online platform. Exswift deliver all types of fuel to numerous locations around Essex and further a field. We will keep you updated as to when they go live. Farmdeals.ag powered by The Farming Forum & FutureFarm. #farming #workinghard #inittogether

Exswift lorry2.jpg
Top