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What is happening now? 

Data collation

Phase 2 of the North Norfolk Biodiversity Audit is underway with millions of pieces of data being collated. The data has been collected by scientists, conservationists, citizen scientists, species-specific groups and individuals. As farmers, the data you can provide from your individual holding is vital, so please do share any data you have with the UEA research team.

Contact Franky Rogers 

In July 2022 a meeting took place at Muckleton Farm between the UEA research team and a large number of the NNCG members from the A148 area.

Here is a report of that meeting: 

At the launch meeting of Phase 2 of the NNCG-led Biodiversity Audit, members and potential members of the group gathered at Muckleton Farm to listen to presentations from the UEA  Biodiversity Conservation in Human-Modified Landscapes team, as well as a general overview on farming and biodiversity by David Lyles. 

Professor Paul Dolman opened the discussion by explaining the importance of understanding the local natural landscape when it comes to creating strategies to maintain and enhance biodiversity. There were, said Professor Doman, three strands to the understanding:  

What is the complete pool of species?

Which do we need to prioritise?

What are the land management requirements? 

He and his team had the means of arriving at the answers at their fingertips because of the vast pool of knowledge that had already been gathered – going back decades – by the various groups that collected millions of pieces of data. Much of this data was available via the Norfolk Biodiversity Information Services (NBIS). 

Professor Dolman also emphasised how important it was that anyone with data, fed it into the pool of knowledge as every piece of information helped develop a complete picture.

Work from previous audits is already making an impact. The ground-breaking Brecklands audit was provoking some dramatic changes in biodiversity and, subsequently, soil health, while the more recent North Norfolk Coast Audit had raised awareness on how to deliver strategies most effectively for nature recovery.

Franky Rogers is the graduate who will be working at the coalface of data collection. She explained that her role was to gather, cleanse and validate the data, a process that was already well underway.

Dr Liam Crowther then dug down into the specifics of providing a varied habitat. He used the workable example of a dead tree versus a pile of dead wood. Both would provide natural habitat, but Dr Crowther demonstrated the added value to nature that the dead tree could provide. This came down to being precise about habitats – we know dead wood is a valuable resource, Crowther’s point was that some dead wood was more valuable than others.  

The role that land managers and farmers can play in this and the benefits that can come from enhancing natural assets was outlined by Dr James Gilroy.

The Prince of Wales Stand at Fakenham Racecourse played host to 35 members and potential members of the North Norfolk Coastal Group (Facilitation Fund) for the autumn group meeting. Following our ambition to offer talks that are relevant, timely and offer practical solutions as well as theory and ideas, we heard from Glenn Anderson of the Wendling Breck Project, Professor Carl Sayer, University College London and Dr Liam Crowther of UEA.

 All three presentations are attached below. 

Glenn Anderson is a farmer and conservationist who has been at the heart of developing the Wendling Beck Exemplar Project, working with neighbouring landowners and partners. Among the organisations involved in the project are: Anglian Water, Defra, FWAG, Norfolk Rivers Trust, Norfolk Wildlife Trust and Nature Conservancy. Together the group are building a framework for natural capital trading.

 After his presentation, Glenn was joined by Professor Jo Treewick, who specialises in biodiversity-inclusive impact assessment at both project and strategic levels.

 She combines work as an impact assessment practitioner with work in training and capacity building. For the past three years she has managed a capacity building programme for biodiversity in impact assessment for the International Association for Impact Assessment.

Jo has experience in Environmental Impact Assessment and Strategic Environmental Assessment for a wide range of developments in the UK and overseas, including river and coastal flood defence schemes, gas pipelines, mining projects and airports. She has been instrumental in setting standards for Ecological Impact Assessment in the UK and for biodiversity-related global conventions. 

Questions from the floor following the presentation raised concerns about the unpredictability of the natural capital markets, the length of agreements and what exactly landowners were signing up to, the impact of inflation on unit prices and the prospect of exporting our carbon footprint elsewhere. Both Dr Treewick and Glenn Anderson agreed that it remains a very complex landscape with many issues to be resolved. 

Glenn Anderson presentation.

Presentation Two – Professor Carl Sayer

The second presenter was Carl Sayer, a professor of Geography at University College London. Carl is an aquatic conservationist and a member of the Pond Restoration Research Group. For the past 15 years he has been involved in pond restoration across Norfolk and. as his presentation shows, he has had some tremendous results, including the return to life of many species of flora that were previously thought to be extinct.

During the course of his talk, Carl showed many examples of ponds that have been restored across the county and highlighted the speed with which nature returned to these habitats. With thousands of ponds and ghost ponds historically spread across Norfolk, there are a multitude of opportunities to bring these back to life and Carl is eager to share his knowledge and expertise. He also said there was an increasing amount of funding available to support such projects. 

For further discussions with Carl, his email is c.sayer@ucl.ac.uk

Carl Sayer presentation

Presentation Three: UEA update by Dr Liam Crowther

The third guest speaker was Dr Liam Crowther a senior research associate at the UEA School of Environmental Services. Liam has been part of the UEA team that first delivered Phase 1 of the Biodiversity Audit focused on land along the coast. The team is now looking at the area between the A149 and A148. In his presentation Liam gave an update on the current status of the Audit. The UEA research team will be holding a workshop looking at agri-environment work with landowners and land managers within the Audit area on 19 January (10-12.30) Prine of Wales Stand, Fakenham Racecourse. 

Liam Crowther presentation

At the meeting, the participants also heard from Charlie Ennals and Sarah Juggins about their roles within the NNCG before David Lyles gave an entertaining and thoughtful talk about the importance of creating water sources for wildlife. The project – Water for Wildlife – aims to raise awareness about the importance of water sources across the county. These can be overflows from buildings upturned troughs, old buckets or specially created small ponds.

Report on February’s Group Meeting

Presentations from February’s Group Meeting

Not all carbon is created equal; opportunities with BNG; funding from FiPL and the exciting Landscape Recovery Pilot – it was a mixed and entertaining set of presentations from our guest speakers. Charlie Ennals gave a round-up of current government grants, schemes and news of any updates or changes to these. Finally, David Lyles explained the next stages of the amalgamation of the original NNCG company limited by guarantee and the larger NNCG Facilitation Fund group – this will be laid out clearly, with articles of association in the coming weeks. speakers.

More than 40 farmers, landowners and associated bodies gathered together at Fakenham Racecourse for the NNCG group meeting. It was a lively morning of varied discussion, and the main points from all the speakers are available below.

The presentations from Professor Brian Reid from the UEA can be accessed here; and the presentation from Sam Paske and Melissa Elibol from Integrated Land Management are attached here.

Dr Katy Owen gave a summary of the ambition and progress of the North Norfolk AONB Landscape Recovery. More information about the exciting project can be accessed here: https://www.norfolk.gov.uk/news/2022/09/norfolk-proud-to-be-part-of-once-in-a-generation-scheme-to-restore-nature-across-england 

The opportunities for farmers to access funding for work related to the North Norfolk Coast Protected Landscape were outlined by Ed Stocker, who is running the Farming in Protected Landscapes initiatiive for the North Norfolk AONB. More information, including case studies of successful applications can be viewed here: https://www.norfolkcoastaonb.org.uk/project/farming-in-protected-landscapes/

The next meeting will take place in May. A Doodle Poll to agree a date for this will be circulated within the next few weeks. 

To contact any of the speakers, see details below:
Brian Reid: B.Reid@uea.ac.uk
Sam Paske: sam@integratedlm.co.uk
Melissa Elibol: melissa@integratedlm.co.uk
Ed Stocker: edward.stocker@norfolk.gov.uk
Katy Owen: katy.owen@norfolk.gov.uk

 

The next whole group meeting will take place on Friday 10 February

The meeting will be held at the Prince of Wales Stand, Fakenham Racecourse, NR21 7NY. Teas and coffees will be available from 9am.  

We are delighted to welcome three guest speakers to the meeting.

With soil health so vital for all of us, the first speaker will provide a wealth of information. Professor Brian Reid is the Associate Pro Vice Chancellor for Research at the UEA School of Environmental Sciences. He is Professor of Soil Science at the University of East Anglia and Adjunct Professor with the Chinese Academy of Science Institute for Urban Environment (Xiamen, China). He is also Technical Expert in Soil Quality to the BSI and a member of the ISO Soil Quality Technical Committee ‐ TC190.

Our second speaker will be on hand to answer many of the questions and issues surrounding biodiversity gain. Sam Paske is managing director of Integrated Land Management and specialises in the practical management of Biodiversity Gain Sites, working with landowners through the entire process, from the creation of the Biodiversity Offset Management Plan (BOMP) to the establishment and ongoing management. His session, What is Biodiversity Net Gain and what can it mean for farmers?, should be a fascinating exploration of a topic that is raising as many questions as answers.

The third presentation will be a revisit to the potential for financial support offered through the Farming in Protected Landscapes (FiPL) scheme. With funds still available for projects that enhance biodiversity on the farmed landscape (in or in connection to an area of protected landscape), this is a great opportunity to ask Ed Stocker any questions you may have about the funding. 

We will also hear an update from David Lyles on the ongoing merger process between the original NNCG and its wider iteration.

Finally, Sarah Juggins will give a brief update on the first meeting of the NNCG Steering Group, which met early in January. 

On Tuesday 18 April we welcome Ian Gould and Pawel Kisielewski to talk about Compost, Cover Crops and Alternative Fertilisers. The event will be held at Copys Green Farm, Wighton, Wells-next-the-Sea NR23 1NY, courtesy of Catherine and Stephen Temple.  It will start at 1.30pm with a demonstration from Stephen’s own composter.

Ian Gould, co-owner of Oakbank, will then give a presentation on The Effective Use of Cover and Companion Crops before we hear from Pawel Kisielewski, CEO of CCm Technologies on: How low-emission waste-based fertilisers can scale and accelerate regenerative farming.

Oakbank Game and Conservation specialise in habitat creation on farmland.  They work with land owners, estate managers, farmers and game keepers to enhance the biodiversity of their land, often making use of agri-environment schemes, such as Environmental Stewardship.  Oakbank takes an innovative approach to Game Crops and habitat provision for Wild Game Birds, and has a particular expertise in Wild Grey Partridge

 

CCm Technologies’ process turns waste CO2, Nitrogen and Phosphates from waste streams generated by agriculture, industry and water companies into a stable useful low emission fertiliser. The product can be tailored specifically into formulations for different crops while reducing emissions. It’s a circular economy product capable of capturing valuable resources unnecessarily damaging air quality and polluting rivers. It provides a scalable solution to some of the challenges in decarbonising agriculture.

Our next event will take place on 11 May at Andrew Ralli’s farm in Stanhoe (Church Farm, Stanhoe, PE31 8PT). The event starts at 9am and finishes at 1pm. Over the course of the morning the group will hear from Charlie Ennals and Andrew Ralli about the work being done on Andrew’s farm as well as information about WildFarmed standards and community. This will be followed by a presentation by soil health expert Niels Corfield.

After a quick break, during which participants can discuss issues and questions with Neils and Charlie, there will be a farm walk with Neils and Andrew offering the opportunity to see the different methods of farming in operation. (Andrew has been experimenting with different methods of farming to boost soil biology and overall soil health alongside Nick Padwick and Andy Cooper and is currently growing wheat for Wildfarmed).

When we return back to the farm we will be joined by Rigil Kent of Norfolk Fire Service who will be giving out some practical and potentially invaluable advice on preventing fires this summer.

The day’s schedule
9:00 – Sign in, teas & coffees
9:30 – Charlie Ennals Introduction – Introduce Andrew Ralli and explain about Wild Farmed standards & community
9:50 – Niels Corfield presentation
11am – Quick break
11:10 – Farm walk with Andrew to talk about various projects and look at machinery. Niels Corfield will be doing a practical session in the field
12:30 Back to the yard for presentation on fire safety
13:00 Finish/networking

If you would like to join this course please contact NNCG on sarah@nncg.org.uk – spaces are limited so booking your place is essential.

Renowned soil health expert Joel Williams took a break from appearances at Groundswell and other events around the country to spend time with a group of 35 members of the NNCG.

The event was hosted by Jimmy Goodley and the talk was followed by a trailer tour around the farm’s trial plots, paying particular attention to the trials involving foliar nitrogen applications.

A copy of Joel’s presentation will be circulated in due course. 

More than 70 people gathered at Sandringham in the Museum Courtyard to listen and interact with a range of speakers from government officials to technology experts.

The day started with a fascinating presentation from Professor Paul Dolman who heads up the UEA Environmental Sciences team. Professor Dolman outlined the key findings of the Biodiversity Audit of the North Norfolk Coastal Group area, along with implications for farmers and land managers. The full report can be read here, but headline news that really captured the imagination of those in the room were:

Professor Dolman said such actions had the potential to: ‘Support very large numbers of species that are currently absent from Farmland.’

14,906 species had been recorded across the area since 1980, including 2,093 conservation priority species.

Buffering and extending habitats such as fens, chalk grassland, heathland, ponds and ancient woodland would play a huge role in restoring biodiversity resilience.

Creating large blocks of high quality habitat, especially mosaics of woodland, scrub, semi-natural grassland or wetland would also greatly improve biodiversity.

Hedges, grass margins and particularly cultivated field margins would create invaluable networks that could provide corridors from one habitat block to the next.

Following Professor Dolman, Dr Katy Owen and Rebecca Banks spoke about the planned work of the North Norfolk AONB Landscape Recovery Pilot. Again, the emphasis of their presentation was focused on what farmers and landowners could do to help achieve biodiversity across the area. This ranged from simple actions such as more grass and cultivated margins through to the re-wriggling of river paths. Dr Owen explained that the work was focused on the catchment areas of North Norfolk’s chalk rivers – landscape features that are both rare and home to an astonishing variety of species.

Ponds are a key feature in landscape recovery and Professor Carl Sayer and researcher Helen Greaves gave an impassioned talk on their Norfolk Ponds restoration project, run via the University College London and with newly-announced support from FiPL. Professor sayer explained how the restoration of degraded and ghost ponds was a high priority for nature recovery but also something that farmers could do relatively cheaply and easily.

If you are a farmer or land manger who is interested in restoring or creating a pond on your land, do contact Carl (c.sayer@ucl.ac.uk) or Helen (h.greaves@ucl.ac.uk) as they have the funding and the army volunteers necessary to make things happen.

Defra’s Janet Hughes delivered a well-received update on SFIs and their roll-out. The civil servant spoke briefly to outline the current situation and explained how the department was determined to make sure the roll-out was both successful and also flexible enough to adapt as issues arose. She then fielded a high volume of questions from the audience. Her key message was: ‘We know things have not always been perfect in the past and we are determined to make the system work better for everyone, so get your applications in now.’

A full report on the Conference can be found here.

Jimmy Goodley’s farm at East Barsham was venue for an enlightening series of talks by members of the agricultural community. 

Spearheading the event was soil guru Joel Williams and his insight into soil health was fascinating. Equally informative was David Purdy who spoke at length about soil chemistry and how it can be improved through well-informed farming practices. 

Also giving their thoughts on regenerative farming principles and ways of improving farm production were Ian Gould of Oakbank, Andrew Long of Ceres Rural, ADM and Catchment Sensitive Farming.

In a clear sign that collaboration and knowledge-sharing is the popular choice among our members, the North Norfolk Coastal Group hosted a contingent from the Wensum Farmers Group on a very soggy Friday morning in Snettisham and Ingoldisthorpe.

The first port of call was at the Snettisham Water Recycling Plant on the edge of James Wilson’s farm at Ingoldisthorpe. Here, Dr Jonah Tosney of the Norfolk Rivers Trust explained the way that four ponds were providing the key to cleaning water once it has left the sewage works (water recycling centre). In essence, the ponds with their plant growth were providing a filtration system that removed phosphorus, nitrogen and other elements from the water, returning it into the river Ingol in a significantly cleaner state.

The four ponds had been built approximately five years ago on seven acres of James Wilson’s less productive land. The ponds were then monitored by the NRT and academic partners to see how successful they were in filtrating the harmful substances from the water. Evidence suggest the system is working well – 99 per cent of harmful bacteria has been removed by the time the water exits the system – although there is still plenty of date to capture in order to gain a clear picture.

The by-product of the work has been a huge increase in biodiversity in the area. The ponds are abundant with plant and insect life. There are many, many water voles living in the banks and two sets of Marsh Harriers have successfully reared young at the site.

 

Following a wet but fascinating tour of the site, the two farm cluster groups then moved to Ken Hill Farm at Heacham Bottom to hear from Farm Manager Nick Padwick about the estate’s journey towards regenerative farming. With nearly two hours of information to digest, the audience had plenty to think about when they left the farm, but key to Nick’s message was that, while not everything had worked as he and the Buscall family had introduced the system, the soil had been in too poor a state to not try.

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