Wednesday, 22 February 2012
With the dry spell of weather over the past few weeks, the land has been drying out which has allowed us to get onto the fields and start working on our spring campaign. We have started ploughing some of the light land inpreparation for planting salad onions in about 4 weeks time. Ploughing now should allow a nice germination of weeds before the onions are planted, reducing the cost of weed killers (herbicides) and actually being able to control some certain weeds, like groudsel.
Derek was ploughing in this field, Lynch Piece, and was almost immediately joined by about 50 lapwings looking for all the tasty worms and insects that were being turned onto the surface. A tasty snack, unless you are the worm!
Wednesday, 15 February 2012
Yesterday I travelled to Royston in Hertfordshire for an Induction Day into becoming a farmer growing 'Conservation Grade' milling wheat for this years harvest. The training took place at Thrift Farm and is owned by Robert Law Robert has been one of the pioneers of Conservation Grade (CG) cereals, growing Oats for Jordans and as one of the 80 or so CG, growers has dedicated 10% of the arable area of the farm to wildlife.
The day started with an induction about CG from Brin Hughes about how the organisation started and what the aims are. In a nutshell the idea is to grow food for people and wildlife on the same farm, whilst getting a premium from the customer for the nature friendly production methods (very important!) In essence the farm needs to provide varying degrees of habitat and food sources for different insects, mammals and birds made up of specific types. 4% must be in Pollen and Nectar Mixes, 2% on Wild Bird Food, 2% in fine tussocky grasses and the final 2% in other habitats, such as hedgerows, ditches, watercourses, woodland and ponds. These percentages work in nicely for us with our Higher Level Stewardship Agreement. A farm map is also needed to help the assessor when being audited, once a year. Within two years there is a habitat assessment to ensure all of the habitats we say we've planted have been done and managed accordingly.
Friday, 10 February 2012
For about the last 6 weeks or so we have had a great flock of LBJ's (Little Brown Jobs) feeding on one of our Higher level Stewardship bird food mixes. The plot is quite large which is great for these smaller birds offering lots of protection, hidden away in the middle of their very own dinner table. The size of the block (5acres) is also able to sustain larger numbers of birds for longer periods of time which is another benefit, so they're not using up energy searching out their next meal. There is also less 'edge effect' of reduced seed yield, usually caused by rabbits nibbling away at the edges.
This mixture consists of Spring barley (60%), Tricticale (15%), Millet (10%), Fodder Raddish (5%) and Mustard (10%), although due to the dry summer when the crop was planted there seems to be a greater percentage of mustard that has survived!
The vast majority of these birds are Bramblings although there are a few Linnets and Chaffinches joining in the flock. Having walked through the crop to take some video footage here of the flock swooping around there is still some seed left that has not shed yet so I hope that this bird table will continue to deliver the goods for a few weeks to come, while the winter weather is upon us.