Farming With Nature
Restoring the balance of nature in the land
On Mill Farm we allow nature to breath, give it space and where logical let areas rewild. Taking a proactive approach to enhance biodiversity and soil health ensures a robust future for not only our crops, but the farmland birds and animals which share the land.
Flower rich margins and plots
During the spring, flower rich plots are sown to provide important habitat and foraging sites for invertebrates and birds. These plots provide an abundant supply of pollen and nectar rich flowers throughout the summer for pollinating and beneficial insects, including bumblebees, solitary bees, butterflies and hoverflies. By autumn these plants will have set seed providing foraging supply for farmlands birds such as our yellow hammers and linnets throughout the winter months into February.
Preserve the past, protect the future
Hedgerows define our countryside and are vitally important for wildlife as shelter, a source of food and as safe corridors of movement – “wild ways”. Rigorous trimming to the same level each time using machinery diminishes these resources and contributes to a densely packed hedge which restricts passages of free movement.
Our hedgerows are packed with common native plants, especially hawthorn, on which over 100 species of invertebrates feed. Its spring blossom is a haven for pollinators including bees, moths and butterflies and its berries in autumn are loved by small mammals and birds.
Hedgerows are made up of lots of singular trees. Partially cutting the stems and laying them at 45 degree angle encourages each tree to regenerate; this extends their life and hence that of the entire hedge. It also creates a constant supply of new growth, providing rich cover for a greater number of species. Restoring hedgerows creates beneficial ‘edges’ between different habitats enabling the diversity of species to flourish.
Over the past 2 years, Trevor has laid over 3 km of our farms hedgerows to establish ecological benefits.
Over the next 3 years these newly laid hedgerows will be lightly trimmed (never to the same point) to encourage dense bushy growth allowing it to gradually increase in height and width. From then on, the hedgerows will be cut every third year between, leaving at least 2/3 of hedges on the farm untrimmed each year.
Improving Soil health
Oil Radish and Mustard
The use of cover crops improves soil structure and increases organic matter. Here you can see oilseed radish. These plants have big taproots which break up layers of compaction in the soil which in turn helps improve drainage and soil structure. The canopy creates lots of cover for farmland birds and is an ideal feeding habitat whilst they enjoy feasting on the seed pods.
In February, we let sheep graze the radish down to the stem before chopping up and incorporating the remaining root and manure back into the field. This improves organic matter content which leads to increased biological activity and water holding potential of the soil.
” We have the world to live in on the condition that we will take good care of it. And to take good care of it we have to know it. And to know it and to be willing to take care of it, we have to love it.”