THE Home Farm, Curry Rivel, has won the Regional Barn Owl Award for the best of farmland conservation and positive environmental practices.

The farm is a diversified arable farm on the edge of the Somerset Levels, jointly run by brothers Henry and Richard Lang, with Richard’s son Harry.

Over 30 years ago, Henry and Richard noticed a decline in the biodiversity on the farm, notably a fall in the abundance of cowslips, skylarks, butterflies and bees.

They were prompted to make changes to protect and encourage wildlife for future generations, while continuing to run a commercially successful farm.

Nowadays, thoughtfully managed hedgerows give way to field margins abundant in wildflowers.

Buffer strips and wildflower margins have been established around all arable fields to protect water quality and promote biodiversity.

No insecticides are sprayed in spring or summer.

The margins were planted nearly 20 years ago with a traditional wildflower hay meadow seed mix, carefully harvested from ancient local meadows.

Oxeye Daisy, Pyramidal Orchids, Yellow Rattle and Knapweed make up just some of the 40 plus species found in the margins.

Blackthorn thrives within the hedgerows providing food for caterpillars of the declining and rare Brown Hairstreak butterfly.

A large number of voles also live and breed in these margins, the main food source for Barn Owls.

The Home Farm actively minimises fossil fuel consumption and energy use across its enterprises, using direct drilling and minimal cultivation.

The farm’s rotation is centred around the production of wheat, using break crops such as linseed, oilseed rape, beans and legume fallow in the rotation to build fertility and minimise weed and disease burdens.

Areas of low agricultural productivity have been identified for habitat enhancement using stewardship options, which has helped promote biodiversity and operational efficiency, with little impact on agricultural output.

Alongside commercial farming, the Lang’s carefully monitor their environmental impact, including but not limited to Shrill Carder bee monitoring, grassland survey of arable reversion meadows, breeding bird species surveys, bat surveys, butterfly monitoring and regular soil sampling.

There is a hay meadow that has not been ploughed in living memory and has never been sprayed. It is managed with a late hay cut and grazed by sheep over winter only, making for an impressive and diverse spot that replicates the meadows of old that used to be such an important part of this landscape.

The farm also has traditional cider orchards grazed by sheep.

Eight ponds and lakes have been created for wildlife, as well as 15 acres of native woodland, skylark and lapwing nesting plots, a restored Grade II listed barn and solar panels among other initiatives.

Henry and Richard passionately believe in educating future generations about the English countryside, and they are delighted to host FWAG SW’s Kingfisher Award Scheme, where primary school groups from the region visit the farm for hands-on activity-based learning about farming and wildlife.