Managing Biodiversity on our Farm
Our farm is situated in a very beautiful part of the country, right on the edge of the Chiltern Hills with the river Thames passing close to our land. We are surrounded by a diverse range of habitats – river meadow, chalk downland, arable fields, pastoral fields with beech and oak woodland.
It is classed as an area of outstanding natural beauty AONB. We aim to preserve this unique habitat with our farming methods. We have planted the only new farm hedges in our parish for over 100 years, in two sections totalling almost 500 m. These are planted with mixed indigenous species of trees and shrubs. Some of the trees will eventually grow on to produce timber in future generations, and many of them are producing fruits and nuts for wildlife now. Within our 17 acres of field vegetables we now have over 1800 m of hedgerow, which have completely changed the way that our crops interact with their local environment.
The hedges are just a part of our bio-diversity and habitat management: there are many other features that we have implemented on our fields to improve the chances for wildlife. We have had to give up small areas of land to do this, but it has enabled us to reduce the problems of pest attacks on our vegetables. The creation of a diverse and dynamic habitat within the fields is all part of our ‘systems approach’ to managing potential pest problems. Increased bio-diversity has ensured that we have a healthy balance of predators feeding on pests and maintaining nature’s equilibrium. Working with nature has proved to be easier that battling against it. We have not sprayed any crops at all even with organic sprays, so successful has our predator management become.
We have had several surveys done to asses our bio-diversity and it has been most encouraging to see the way that the number of species has grown over the past 20 years.
Important species present:
- Water vole
- Red Kite
- Stag beetle
- Barn owl