Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Millbank Trials

The field photographed is hosting our trial areas for wild bird seeds as part of the impending HLS scheme. It was planted in April with a wide variety of plants aimed at producing wild bird feed through the winter. the mix included mustard, fodder radish, kale, linseed, sunflowers, millet and we added some spring barley just for good measure.
Despite the dry summer the crop got off to a great start, fending off most of the pigeons eyeing up the juicy seedlings, mainly the sunflowers and kale. The flee beetles and the pollen beetles also had a go but a timely insecticide brought them to a swift end. What has amazed me is the diverse insect life that is benefiting from the plants in flower. I walked into the crop this morning to find bumblebees, honey bees, butterflies, spiders, ladybirds, hoverflies and many other hungry beasties all feasting on the pollen. I was really pleased about this, an uncalculated but not unsurprising benefit.
We need more farmers to take up these options as part of Campaign for the Farmed Environment, it wasn't that expensive to establish, it might last two years, with the kale surviving, and the benefits to general farm biodiversity will be enormous.

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