Farming Diary by Pippa Merricks, Farming in Protected Landscapes officer, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority:

LAST month, my colleague Helen introduced the Farming in Protected Landscapes (FiPL) programme.

Our counterparts at the Lake District National Park Authority have also been promoting FiPL in these pages.

But I think it’s worth writing about again, not least because I’d like to be able to introduce myself. I have been appointed as Farming in Protected Landscapes officer for the northern half of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, including the Westmorland Dales area and the old Yorkshire parishes of Garsdale, Dent and Sedbergh. If you are from this area, I’ll be the first point of contact if you have a project idea, and will handle your FiPL grant application.

I’ve worked with farmers and land managers up and down the Pennines for more than 30 years now and have become fascinated by soil health. This is relevant whether we are growing vegetables in our gardens, arable farming in Cambridgeshire (where I grew up) or livestock farming in the hills.

I have been so encouraged in the past few weeks - since I started my new job - by the number of farmers who have spoken about the opportunities they see to adapt their farm systems and grazing management to allow their soils to regenerate and to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and other expensive inputs such as fertiliser and feed.

There are links to be made to the public’s desire for healthy, grass-fed meat produced from high-welfare, nature-friendly farm systems, too. Whether you are producing lamb or beef, breeding stock or dairy, I believe we can work together - with the help of the FiPL funding and the new Environmental Land Management schemes that will follow - to refocus farming and ensure it is a key part of the solution to our 21st-century challenges.

There is £1.2 million available for the first year of the FiPL programme, so we are really keen to hear your ideas and help you to move your plans forward.

I can be contacted via or on 07812 773751.