We are delighted to have had our application accepted to join the Countryside Stewardship Mid-Tier scheme, put in place by DEFRA this year to improve local environments.
This five-year initiative includes grant funding to support and remunerate farmers who undertake important work to conserve the farmed environment. The scheme is aimed at improving this environment for wildlife, insects, and pollinators, whilst also bettering water and air quality.
As part of the scheme, we have planted and cultivated 20 hectares of cover crop in our open fields, it improves soil structures and drainage, as well as minimising soil erosion and nitrate leaching over the winter months. The cover crop will then be grazed by the sheep or cattle from late January prior to the ground being prepared for Spring Barley.
Our winter bird food cover crop (AB9) contains Coleor Kale, Goldeneye Kale, Camaro Marrow Stem Kale, Kale Rape, Linseed, Fodder Radish, Gold of Pleasure, White Mustard, Sandoval Quinoa, Phacelia, Chicory, and Utopia. AB9 cover provides shelter and food for songbirds, grey partridge, and insects throughout the winter.
We have created grass margins that will be rich in flowers for pollinators next spring and will help protect the watercourse by restricting agricultural activity. Concrete and drainage work is underway in the steading, which will reduce contamination of the local waterways by segregating clean and dirty water. The dirty water will now be filtered through a sediment trap before entering the watercourse, helping to improve water quality.
We are looking forward to witnessing the fruits of our work over the next 5 years, whilst planning the next steps we can take as part of the Countryside Stewardship scheme.
Picture below shows AB9 cover
A covey of grey partridge in flight on a over-wintered stubble.
A field margin
A close up of a pollinator flower in one of our field margins
A field of cover crop which is designed to improve soil structure and drainage as well as minimise soil erosion over the winter months.
A close up of the cover crop
Concrete and drainage work
Another picture of one of the winter feeding/shelter plots for local wildlife.