Brecon farmers win 2016 FWAG Silver Lapwing Award

Annie Brown (2015 winner) passes on the Silver Lapwing trophy to 2016 winners Richard and Helen Roderick.

The 2016 Silver Lapwing finalists with judge Martin Hole, Philip Merricks and Heather Jenkins of Waitrose.

A Welsh farming family have been recognised by the farming and conservation industry for their outstanding efforts to promote good habitat and environmental management on their farm in the Brecon Beacons National Park. Richard and Helen Roderick of Newton Farm, Brecon, received the highly-coveted ‘Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group National Silver Lapwing Award,’ now in its 39th year. The award, generously sponsored by the Waitrose Farming Partnership, recognises farmers who go the extra mile to protect and enhance the countryside in which they farm. Richard and Helen were chosen from a national shortlist of six farms, each selected for demonstrating outstanding commitment to good environmental practices, alongside the production of high quality food.

The 2016 FWAG Silver Lapwing Award was presented to Richard and Helen Roderick on Thursday 7th July by Philip Merricks, MBE and Heather Jenkins, Waitrose Director of Meat, Poultry, Fish, Frozen Food and Dairy, and Agriculture, at a ceremony hosted by Annie Brown, the 2015 Silver Lapwing recipient, at her farm in West Sussex.

Upon receiving the award, Richard said:

“It is an honour to win the Silver Lapwing Award.  We live in a beautiful part of Wales, in the centre of the Brecon Beacons National Park and our vision is for Newton Farm to be a profitable mixed farm, which maximises the use of its own resources, while increasing biodiversity and conserving the wildlife and historical features.   We are very proud of the recognition this award brings to Wales reflecting the huge amount of positive environmental work carried out on family farms across the country alongside growing some of the best quality, naturally reared lamb and beef in the world.”

After thanking the sponsors and judges, who make the Silver Lapwing possible, Richard added, “The work undertaken by FWAG and FWAG Cymru will become even more essential over the coming months and years as both Government and farmers rely on their expert advice to help navigate the post Brexit changes that will no doubt affect all farming businesses.

Helen and I thoroughly enjoyed the event, and the wonderful tour of Annie Brown’s farm and we smiled all the way home to Brecon. Thank you.”

Presenting the award, Heather Jenkins, Waitrose Director of MPFFD and Agriculture said:


"This is an important event for British farming that showcases the very best in environmentally sensitive farming. What is especially wonderful is the focus on how good environmental stewardship can sit right at the heart of a commercially savvy business plan. This year we are especially proud that the winner is one of our dedicated Welsh lamb farmers, so a hearty congratulations to Richard, Helen and family for their well deserved win and a massive well done to all the runners up and entrants."

Chris Butler, Chairman of the FWAG Association, said:

“The prestigious FWAG Silver Lapwing National Award, now in its 39th year, has been won by Richard and Helen Roderick of Newton Farm. Through their passion, dedication and use of independent advice, they have a very successful commercial farm whilst protecting natural resources and producing a whole farm environment that is rich in wildlife. We hope that the example shown by Richard and Helen will inspire other farmers to achieve great things for wildlife on their farms.”

Richard and Helen Roderick of Newtown Farm, Scethrog, Brecon

Richard and Helen Roderick farm 650 acres of land spread around the Usk valley near Brecon with 75 Suckler cows, around 1,050 ewes, 260 ewe lambs and approx. 50 acres of low input cereals. Across the farm Richard has restored a patchwork of small fields, by planting new hedgerows and installing double-fencing to produce and protect excellent hedges. He has also fenced off his streams allowing wildlife to move about the farm freely in these corridors while improving the quality and ecological health of the river. Lower down the valley he has been restoring river banks on the Usk to reduce bank erosion and siltation issues downstream. There is a significant iron-age hill fort above the farm where Richard has been laboriously clearing bracken and scrub and he has purchased Highland cattle to maintain the cleared ground. The judges were particularly taken by the conversion of a WW2 bunker into a hibernaculum for the Lesser Horseshoe bat. Energy requirements have been reduced by the installation of a woodchip heating system in the farmyard and a small solar PV installation, while red clover is used to reduce the use of nitrogen fertilisers and the use of bought-in protein. There is considerable engagement with young farmers and with local school children and, to cap it all, Richard was Sheep Farmer of the Year 2015.

Dominic Gardner of Lee Farm, Angmering Park, West Sussex

Lee Farm, Angmering stretches to nearly 3,000 acres of the South Downs National Park and is beautifully farmed under a contract farming partnership between Dominic Gardner and the Angmering Park Estate. Dominic manages his chalk soils sustainably by bringing in large quantities of waste product and by fully integrating his sheep flock into his arable rotation, both of which utilise modern technology to optimise margins whilst protecting the numerous heritage assets on this part of the Downs.

The team is busy restoring chalk grassland and has an interesting way of creating instant woodland by using a Hymac 360 to dig up and replant semi mature thinnings that would otherwise be felled for firewood. There is much provision for winter food and habitat for farmland birds and the farming and the conservation is well planned and exceptionally well integrated with the Estate’s prestigious pheasant and partridge shoot.

Peter Bennett of Home Farm, Babraham, Cambridgeshire

Home Farm has been expertly and sensitively managed by Peter Bennett since the early 1980’s. Consisting of over 600ha of mainly chalky loam soils the farm has nearly 500ha in arable crops with the remainder taken up by woodland, conservation areas and a large, well-designed reservoir. Much thought has gone into the siting of the conservation areas and Peter’s attempts to encourage traditional chalkland arable plants have worked well with a commensurate population of hares, grey partridges and other rare species. There is considerable archaeology on the farm all of which has been carefully identified and sensitively managed.

Nick Bumford of Guiting Manor Farms, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

Guiting Manor Farms is owned by a charitable trust and has been expertly farmed by Nick Bumford and his staff for almost 30 years. Situated to the East of Cheltenham in one of the most beautiful parts of the Cotswolds, this farm would enhance any locality. All watercourses have been meticulously protected by margins or trees, much public access has been created so that the village can enjoy the extensive areas of flower rich margins and plots which, combined with many other features, produce a rich variety of birdlife. Carefully managed woodlands have produced a rich understorey of rare plants where butterflies and dormice can thrive. The farm engages with Open Farm Sunday, normally in conjunction with other organisations, and last year attracted 600 people. Nick has deservedly been a past winner of the Silver Lapwing and has come back around according to the competition’s ten year banning rule.

John and Margaret Hill of Ashcroft, Edingley, Newark

John and Margaret Hill farm a 260 acre organic mixed farm at Edingley, a few miles west of Newark. The farm has a ‘Pick Your Own’ soft fruit site and produces cereals and “pasture fed” organic beef from a Shorthorn suckler herd. Some of the beef is sold direct and looks seductively delicious! Much of the farm income is derived from their extensive Higher Level Stewardship scheme which contains most of the usual elements, such as the management of ancient woodlands, the planting of wild bird seed and pollinator plots and leaving areas of harvested cereal crops uncultivated over winter, providing food for over wintering bird. However, the farm also holds a substantial area of species rich grassland and meadow, many bird boxes and two traditional orchards stocked with over 50 varieties of apples, pears and plums. The Hills engage actively with their local community and have created cycle and bridle paths and host many school groups.

Andrew and David Roberts of Clive Farm, Pattingham, Staffordshire

Andrew and David Roberts farm at Clive farm at Pattingham, Staffordshire which extends to approx. 390ha and is part owned and part tenanted from the Crown Estate. The farm grows combinable crops and potatoes and also carries a suckler herd and sheep for winter grazing. The inclusion of spring barley in the rotation allows for 20ha of overwintered stubbles (areas of harvested crops left uncultivated over winter) and a variety of arable field margins both benefiting the local bird populations. Andrew keeps meticulous records of all birds on the farm and is able to demonstrate increasing success with lapwings, corn bunting and grey partridges, species that have become rare in the UK landscape. Pollinators derive benefit from low use of insecticides and a combination of beetle banks (in-field earth banks that provide habitat for beneficial insect populations), floristically enhanced margins, pollen and nectar mixes and a steep sandstone escarpment are sensitively managed to support rare lowland acidic grassland habitats.

The six 2016 Silver Lapwing finalists.

The FWAG Association is pleased to be working in partnership with GWCT and LEAF.

Thank you to our 2016 sponsors