On Tuesday, October 15 more than 50 FWAG SouthWest members, advisers, partners, friends and neighbours gathered at Wootton Rivers Village Hall, Wiltshire, for a morning of celebrations.

Wiltshire farmers, Richard and David Butler, of East Wick Farm, were presented with the FWAG SouthWest Barn Owl Award for conservation in 2018. The award celebrates those farmers that go the extra mile to produce food sustainably and carefully manage and conserve farmland wildlife.

Gary Rumbold, FWAG SouthWest general manager, led the proceedings, marking FWAG’s 50th Anniversary. Gary spoke on this monumental landmark, noting fifty years of independent, expert advice to farmers, from accredited, trained and experienced advisers who have nothing to sell but advice.

Gary highlighted why celebrating good farm environmental management is needed: “I believe it is very important to put a spotlight on farms like East Wick that are doing an amazing job at producing great food, running a profitable business and conserving our farmed environment. We need to shout about successes in farmland conservation and the Barn Owl Trophy is a perfect way to do that.”

Richard and David Butler, father and son, are very hands on at East Wick, running a commercially successful 720ha mixed farm, whilst simultaneously and conscientiously thinking to the future, with the natural flora and fauna at the forefront of their thinking.

Read more: Presentation of FWAG conservation Bronze Otter Award to Chubbs Farm, Devon

The Butlers, joined by Mark Smith, FWAG SouthWest Farm Conservation Adviser for the area, Ben Dolbear and David Bright of Bright Seeds, and Simon Smart (PDFG), took the opportunity to show guests various areas of the farm, discussing the seed mixes and options on the farm.

They covered veteran trees, fauna poles, butterflies, hedgerows, field margins and corners, game cover, ponds and much more on the walk. An exceptional view of Martinsell Hill closed the walk, where guests returned to the pub for a hearty lunch.

Richard Butler of East Wick Farm said: “We are thrilled to have been awarded the Regional Barn Owl Trophy and it has been a pleasure to welcome so many guests to the farm today. This accolade has inspired further development on the farm such as the ponds and nest boxes – it’s been a huge incentive for us to continue our work on the farm, with conservation in mind”.

The FWAG SW regional and county competitions will open again in January 2020. If you are a farmer that fancies your chances, or you know of a worthy farm that demonstrates good conservation practices alongside farming, use our online application to enter: https://www.fwagsw.org.uk/Event/fwag-south-west-county-competition-entry