|Colourful pre-industrial diversity surrounded by deep green desert|
My childhood saw the horses replaced by tractors ( small grey ones mostly with motor car engines), combine harvesters replaced binders and threshers, this "mechanisation" led to loss of habitat and enabled intensification. Then the widespread adoption of
|High energy input........ no diversity|
Even in the remoter livestock farming areas of the north and west intensification has resulted in a landscape of dark green fields ( because of high nitrogen fertiliser use)..... a deep green desert dominated by grass, cow parsley, stinging nettles and low diversity.
|Low energy input .......... high diversity|
But this week, in the Coquet Valley in North Northumberland we visited an island of colourful diversity in the sea of green..... Burradon Windyside Farm near Thropton. Here Kevin Wharf has transformed what were once intensively managed barley fields into floristically rich meadows.
The change has been achieved quickly and effectively by using traditional grazing management, haymaking and broadcasting wild flower seeds. Sheep graze the fields during and immediately after lambing in the Spring. The fields are then shut up until late June early July when a small scale seed harvester collects the flower seed then this is followed by making hay.
Why is this interesting?................. well you may have noticed that the UK is about to commit economic suicide by leaving the European Union. We farmers and Crofters are unlikely to get the level of subsidy enjoyed by farmers in member countries but our Minister for the environment has promised enhanced incentives for biodiversity creation and sustainable farming. Kevin has shown how this could be done.
No!...... I don't believe the promises of politicians ......... But!..........along with climate change they are going to have to take biodiversity loss seriously and it might just happen.
My wife and I were walking around the meadows at Birches Farm near Kington, Herefordshire last weekend - run by the local Wildlife Trust. A perfect example of low input farming - meadows full of yellow rattle, buttercups, vetch, common spotted orchids, and twayblade orchids. Loads of insects, birds, evidence of badgers, red kites and buzzards flying overhead. Wonderful!
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