Tandragee farmer Tim McClelland has been crowned runner-up in the RSPB’s Nature of Farming Award 2013 after receiving almost 20 per cent of the 13,000 votes cast right across the UK.
The awards recognise the extra mile that farmers like Tim go to give nature a home on their farms and the competition was tougher than ever this year, with the number of UK finalists increased from four to eight.
Tim’s arable farm is a perfect example of how a large, commercially successful farm can support a diverse range of birds and wildlife and he entered the competition in a bid to show that producing food and protecting nature can go hand in hand.
The public were clearly inspired by the work he does across 270 acres, such as sowing wild bird cover, leaving rough grass margins around his fields for insects and planting hedgerows to provide habitats for a range of wildlife.
Tim’s farm attracts seed-eating species like the yellowhammer, tree sparrow and the linnet as well as butterflies, bees and mammals including the Irish hare and soprano pipistrelle bat. Tim also received fantastic support from RSPB corporate members White’s Oats, Hastings Hotels, DARD, Greenmount and Armagh City Council.
He was just pipped to the post by Nicholas Watts from Lincolnshire.
Although Tim admits it “would have been nice to bring the trophy home to Northern Ireland”, he says he has taken a lot of positives away from the competition.
“My aim was to get across the message that farmers are more than just food producers, we are the custodians of the countryside,” he said.
“I am really glad I took part in the Nature of Farming Award and want to thank everyone who has supported me. I hope the publicity around the competition has changed some people’s perceptions and inspired them to do their bit to give nature a home on their patch. I’m going to keep doing what I have been doing to helps birds and wildlife because, for me, it just comes naturally.”