Sowing the seeds for farm wildlife


This summer Butterfly Conservation got to grips with the farming industry by attending Cereals - the largest event in the UK arable industry calendar.

The gathering is a showcase for farming technology with demonstrations on subjects as diverse as sprays and sprayers, harvest technology potatoes and renewables.

So far - so farming. But what has any of this got to do with butterlfies and moths?

 Attending this annual show (this year as a guest of the RSPB) is unchartered territory for Butterfly Conservation, but with the launch of the new Countryside Stewardship Scheme all eyes are on farmers and we wanted to be there in the thick of it.

Butterfly Conservation is part of a partnership called Farm Wildlife which aims to bring together the best practice, advice, guidance and case studies on how to manage agricultural land for wildlife. 

As part of this partnership we are hoping that we will stand with unified messages about supporting wildlife on farmland.  This year I was at Cereals as an observer.  As I arrived at the event site, I realised what I was about to experience- gigantic tractors with caterpillar tracks as tall as a house, combine harvesters as wide as a dual carriageway and elaborate stalls promoting all manner of machines and technologies. 

I spent the day chatting to farmers and learning about how the RSPB operates its agricultural advisory services.

After trudging around in the beating sun I can honestly say that the RSPB stand was hosting some of the most engaging interactions with farmers.  The stall was bustling and Butterfly Conservation leaflets and ID guides were extremely popular. 

This was the RSPB's 16th year at the event and next year we hope that all of the Farm Wildlife partners will be represented on the stand. 

All in all, an eye opening experience with lots of positive comments from farmers about the work that nature conservation organisations are doing.

Dr Katie Cruickshanks is Butterfly Conservation Butterfly & Moth Initiative Conservation Officer