Sharing Good Practice: Farmers and Nature

Last month, Battleby Auditorium played host to a popular Sharing Good Practice event, Farmers and Nature: promoting success and looking forward.

SGP farming event 1- May 2018

Panel discussion with each of the five speakers and SNH Head of Policy and Advice Eileen Stuart.

We wanted farmers to share their success stories about how they farm sustainably to benefit nature. And we weren’t disappointed.

On the day, we were delighted to have a full house and a great mix of farmers, agricultural advisors and policy specialists from various organisations.  Our CEO, Francesca Osowska, opened the proceedings and the presentations and panel discussion were ably chaired by SNH board member Ian Gillies.

Five land managers (crofters, farmers and farm managers) took centre stage throughout the morning to highlight how they farm sustainably. It was incredibly valuable to hear from this diverse cross section of people involved in agriculture, which included a large mixed arable and livestock estate, a woodland croft and an organic dairy farm, with each speaker describing their own experience and motivation.

SGP farming event 2 - May 2018

The speakers, pictured here with SNH Graduate Placement Kirsten Brewster, enjoyed meeting one another as well as participants at the event. (L-R: Teyl de Bordes, Bryce Cunningham, Roger Polson, Kirsten Brewster, David Aglen  and Lynn Cassels)

As one participant said, “There is no point in fighting nature!  It makes much more sense to work with nature.” Another noted that sustainable farming is “getting out of the red by going green.”

Looking ahead, the group felt it was valuable to have environmental and citizen science volunteers work with farmers to understand environmental trends on their farms. Any future monitoring scheme needs to feedback to farmers, who tend not to get told whether what they are doing has been successful or not.

It’s also invaluable to use farmers’ and crofters’ skills and knowledge to test what works, learn from failures, and share success.

SGP farming event 3 - May 2018

The day was a wonderful opportunity to learn from each other, which was appreciated by everyone in the room. Here’s some of the feedback we received:

[It was] an exceptional line-up of very different speakers to pass their experiences on to a receptive audience of interested listeners.
     – Michael Clarke, Williamwood Farm, Nature Friendly Farming Network

It was an excellent opportunity to hear first-hand from the practitioners about their experiences and efforts with sustainable management of natural resources. It was helpful to understand better criticisms about existing schemes and their delivery, as well as the call for more support at the farm/estate level in identifying what needs conserving and for help with monitoring achievements.”
     – Buddug Jones, Common Land and Agriculture Advisor, Natural Resources Wales

For more information on the event, see:

Videos of each presentation are now available at the SNH YouTube channel. []

Geoff Squire of the James Hutton Institute has produced this blog [].

Participants were provided afterwards with copies of the presentations and a short paper on ‘payment by results schemes’ as this topic generated a great deal of interest and discussion [ ]after the event.



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