Julian Smith MP visits Humberstone Bank Farm

Humberstone Bank Farm in the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is being farmed sustainably to protect water quality, wildlife biodiversity, peat moorland and improve carbon storage. 

Jonathan Grayshon, the tenant farmer, and representatives from land owners Yorkshire Water chatted about their shared vision for this 900-hectare farm with Julian Smith MP last week. 

The Member of Parliament for Skipton and Ripon learned that Yorkshire Water decided to take a ‘Beyond Nature’ approach to managing the farm when the previous tenants of 80 years advised they were retiring. 

Lisa Harrowsmith, Lead Surveyor from Yorkshire Water, explained that whilst protecting the quality of the water flowing off the land and into our reservoirs remains the primary requirement for the catchment land, the ‘Beyond Nature’ approach recognises that this land has the potential to add significant value to society, communities, customers and stakeholders. 

Using the farm as a trial area for new approaches to catchment, moorland and sustainable land management it’s hoped to demonstrate that improved water quality, biodiversity and carbon storage can be delivered whilst still supporting grouse and grazing enterprises. Both Lisa and Jonathan hope that Humberstone Bank Farm will become a model of sustainability for other farms throughout the Yorkshire Water Estate.
Julian Smith MP said; “I was very interested to see how the partnership between Jonathan and Yorkshire Water has the potential to combine traditional livestock farming practices with an increased focus on protecting our beautiful environment here in North Yorkshire.” 

“This is a very important time for the agricultural sector, as it looks to the future and the ways it can become more sustainable and so I welcome the work being undertaken here by Jonathan and Yorkshire Water. It is also great for our rural community to see a young person being given the chance to run their own farm.” 

An economic grazing regime will be established for each habitat of the farm whilst optimising wildlife habitats and conserving key species like merlin, snipe, curlew and lapwing. 

Opportunities to use the farm buildings for new purposes to benefit the local community and economy are also being explored. 

Jonathan, a local sheep farmer from Dacre in Nidderdale, had to submit his proposals for Humberstone Bank Farm to Yorkshire Water and undertake an interview process before learning he’d successfully won the tenancy last September. He moved into the farm last October and brought his flock of 370 ewes with him.