Wensleydale farmers learn how to score meadow

YDNPA farm conservation adviser, Jane Le Cocq, centre, assists farmers to score meadows for species-richness.

A group of farmers helping to pilot a new type of agri-environment scheme were on their knees in a ‘five-star’ meadow at Thornton Rust this week.

The farmers took part in a two-hour training session run by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) farm team.

Sheena Pratt and her son, James, of Dale View Farm hosted the event, during which farmers were shown how to score a meadow and therefore work out how much payment would be due on it.

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You can read a full account of the training session here.

During the two-year pilot, farmers are being paid for producing either species-rich meadows or good habitat for breeding waders.

The more species-rich the meadow, the higher the payment.

Sheena Pratt of Dale View Farm in Thornton Rust.

The YDNPA is currently awaiting a decision from government on whether the pilot can be extended and expanded.

YDNPA chairman Carl Lis said:  “The Wensleydale farm payment pilot is one of the most important pieces of work the Authority is involved in at the moment – and central government has recognised how well the scheme has been working.

“Hay meadows are the jewel in the crown of the farmed landscape that is the Yorkshire Dales National Park.  But truly species-rich meadows have become rare even here.

“We must find a long-term, simple and effective way of incentivising and rewarding farmers to produce what is no doubt a public good.”