How is the farm managed for wildlife?
One of our most important priorities for the farm is maintaining and increasing biodiversity. We are lucky enough to have a wide range of habitats on our small farm and these provide food and shelter for diverse species of plants and animals.
Our grazing strategy helps to provide good conditions for the wildflowers that we hope to encourage in our meadows. We have our hay cut at the start of July, which is later than on many farms. This late cutting makes our hay less rich than June hay, which actually makes it more suitable for our type of sheep and ponies and it also gives the wildflowers in the grass time to set seed for next year.
Our hedges are not cut every year on both sides. We usually cut them on the inside one year and the outside the next year, although one of our hedgerows is only cut every three years. From the road, in the winter, you might think that the hedges look a little straggly and unkempt but we manage them this way to provide the best conditions for the birds, butterflies and small mammals that depend on them for food and shelter. When we do have the hedges cut, we usually wait until February, by which time the animals will have eaten all the berries and fruit in the hedgerow that help them survive the winter.
We are constantly striving to improve the quality of our habitats to protect and enhance the species richness and diversity and 100% of our farm is within the Higher Tier of the new Countryside Stewardship scheme. The main priorities for our farm are the restoration of traditional lowland meadows, replacement of lost orchards and creation of some new hedgerows to act as wildlife corridors.