Meet your wildlife-friendly farming award winner

A Lincolnshire farmer with a long-running love of wildlife has been crowned the most nature-friendly farmer in the UK by the RSPB.

Sunflowers1_m-7f23bf1

Nicholas Watts took home the 2013 RSPB Nature of Farming Award for his hard work helping species that are in decline, such as tree sparrows.

Advertisement

On his 2,000 acre farm in Lincolnshire, Nicholas has planted 4km of hedges, created 12 ponds (around 15 acres of water), left wide grass margins for barn owls to hunt over, sowed 15 acres of wildflower meadows for insects and 35 acres of cultivated margins for weeds, and built four brick towers for barn owls.

He said, “In 1992, after recording the breeding birds on my farm for 10 years, I realised there had been a big drop in numbers. This worried me so I set about trying to reverse that decline and I have succeeded with several species.

“Since the mid 1990s the national numbers of some farmland birds, such as the yellow wagtail, have continued to decline. I’m delighted to have shown that it’s possible to buck this trend, but I feel that farmers need to be given as much support as possible to put wildlife back on the land.”

Nicholas grows a wide range of crops on his farm, and also makes the time to give regular talks across the country on farming and wildlife.

The award judges put together a shortlist of eight finalists from different regions around the UK, and then asked the public to vote for their overall winner.

Martin Harper, the RSPB’s director of conservation and award judge, said: “Nicholas impressed us with the way he constantly comes up with original ideas for creating habitat, not frightened to try something new but equally not afraid to admit when things need to change. 

“He has a profitable farm business that gives nature a home. His many years of experience provide others with knowledge and motivation to follow in his footsteps, so his impact is far beyond his own farm gate.”

Advertisement

The competition is run by the RSPB, supported by Butterfly Conservation and Plantlife, and sponsored by The Telegraph.