January 2, 2012
Environmental measures integrated within our farming operation.
The whole farm is managed under the umbrella of two CSS agreements, which are currently about mid-term. The main features of the schemes are as follows:-
- Every field has a 6 metre grass margin.
- Nearly every cereal field has a 24 meter conservation headland around its periphery.
- In the centre of the farm is a 1.5 hectare reedbed which was constructed during 2000 – this incorporates areas of wet fen, reedbed, swampy areas, open water and recreated grassland.
- Most dyke banks are not mowed at all except where absolutely necessary. Slubbing out is carried out in the winter time and only the central water way is disturbed.
The main habitats that have been created or retained to complement the existing landscape.
- The grass margins and beetle bankhave proved to be very popular with nesting Grey Partridges. Many other birds use them for foraging for food such as Corn Buntings, Reed Buntings and Lapwings.
- The last lifted Sugar beet is put into set-aside the following year to allow ideal nesting areas for Lapwings and Sky larks. (on one 37 acre field this year we estimate about seven or eight Lapwing nests).
- 2 hectares of overwintered stubble followed by a summer fallow is also a useful tool in the provision of nesting areas for the above birds.
- The provision of the 1.5 hectare reedbed and unmown dyke sides provide a network of traditional fenland habitats for many threatened species of birds and mammals.
- Numerous plots of wild bird seed mix are sown every other year across the whole farm and provide vital food resources for many wild birds during the winter months. Within these plots we supplement the feed with spread wheat during the harshest winter weather. last year a local wildlife writer recorded the largest flocks of Corn/Reed Buntings he had seen anywhere in Cambridgeshire feeding on our wild bird mix.
- We have a small but increasing population of Tree Sparrows that we have encouraged by the siting of a group of nest boxes within a small group of trees to one end of a parcel of wild bird mix.
The resulting benefits to local wildlife.
Many species of birds, insects and mammals have benefited by our environmental policies –
- Water voles are common across the majority of the drains on the farm and are undisturbed through reduced ditch maintenance.
- Most of the endangered farmland birds are present and thriving on the farm. It is estimated that there are around 15 breeding pairs of lapwing on the farm. This is up from about 10 pairs last year.
- Tree Sparrows are nesting in special nest boxes provided on farm.
- About twelve species of dragon/damsel flies are resident in our reedbed, including the Hairy dragonfly.
- Grey Partridge are increasing in abundance due to the provision 6m margins and the beetle bank. Within which they like to nest, and which also provide abundant insects for their young.
The ways we have ensured that our farming operations have minimal impact on the environment.
- Where possible we avoid the use of broad spectrum insecticides
- Tractor hoeing is avoided where possible to protect ground nesting birds nests/young.
- Staff are encouraged to mark nests, so as to prevent accidental damage.
- Dyke maintenance is restricted to the minimum allowing old reed stems to be undamaged to provide nesting sites for Reed Warblers and Reed Buntings and to provide undisturbed habitat for water voles and cover for a multitude of other species.