Deeping St Nicholas farm balances profit and wildlife

Lapwing. Photo: Nicholas Watts
Lapwing. Photo: Nicholas Watts

Progress in agricultural technology has resulted in much higher yields, but it has taken its toll on wildlife.

For instance, at one time many farms had horses, sheep and cattle, all good for encouraging the insects birds need to feed on.

The farmer’s technological armoury was once very limited: Nicholas Watts says in the 1960s wheats were sprayed with just one herbicide, in contrast to a more typical farm today that might use two or three herbicides, a growth regulator and as many as four fungicides.

Ironically, one of the worst things for the environment can be when a young man takes over a farm and introduces modern practices, he adds.

However, there are things that farmers can do, such as getting on government schemes that offer grants for taking wildlife-friendly measures.

Nicholas – who last year topped £1,000,000 in donations to The Wildlife Trusts from the sale of bird seed to its members – was on Monday due to receive a Redlist Revival award for his work with the tree sparrows and has been entered by The Wildlife Trusts for a small business award for his wildlife work.