Farmers awarded £90,000 to care for protected landscapes

Farmland in the Dedham Vale

Farmland in the Dedham Vale - Credit: Dedham Vale AONB

More than £90,000 has been awarded to farmers and land managers in Suffolk and Essex as part of a government programme to conserve and enhance protected landscapes.

Defra's  new Farming in Protected Landscapes scheme offers financial support for projects in environmentally-sensitive areas relating to "climate, nature, people and place".

The programme has just finished its first year in operation, with several grants paid to farms in the Coast and Heaths and Dedham Vale Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs).

Around £30,000 in Coast and Heaths, and just over £60,000 in Dedham Vale, has been awarded to farmers, smallholders, and farm clusters.

The money has been used to create 16 new orchards, together with other tree planting and the restoration of historic orchards.

The programme will also be supporting whole-farm carbon assessments for several holdings in Dedham Vale.

A range of other projects have also been funded, including farm machinery to support crop production using lower chemical inputs, which will allow for more proactive environmental management on farms.

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Machinery funded includes a roller-crimper to kill cover crops, negating or considerably reducing the need for weed-killers such as glyphosate. There have also been grants for a midi-baler to help the management of uncropped field corners and margins, and a mini excavator for ditch restoration and management.

Nigel Chapman, chairman of the Farming in Protected Landscapes local assessment panel, said: “Interest in Farming in Protected Landscapes continues to grow, and there are a number of exciting projects currently in development for the 2022 / 2023 financial year, but the programme is always keen to hear from farmers, land managers and others who have ideas for potential projects which Farming in Protected Landscapes might be able to support.”

The Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB and Dedham Vale on the Essex-Suffolk border were both designated in 1970. The Coast and Heaths AONB was later extended to include more parts of North Essex along the Stour Estuary.