We have always worked hard to maintain and enhance the farm environment and landscape. A ten-year conservation plan, drawn up by the local Farming Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG) included the establishment of a new ‘green lane’ bounded on both sides by hedges and grassy margins. We are also involved in a range of positive environmental management projects including hedgerow coppicing, the pollarding of willows in fields bordering the River Thames and the thinning of mature woodland to provide a better balance of wildlife habitats.
The land owned by the farm was in Countryside Stewardship Schemes for 20 years to 2014. In December 2014 we entered a 10 year Entry Level Scheme / Higher Level Scheme majoring on farmland birds. Two of the Landowners for who we farm are also in the Entry Level Scheme.
Under the auspices of the ELS / HLS, particular species of birds are being actively encouraged, notably Corn bunting, Yellowhammer, Grey Partridge, Lapwing and Skylark. We hope to encourage numbers through the establishment of suitable nesting and feeding sites. Plots for Stone Curlew and Barn Owl boxes have been on the farm for many years.
For further details of these and other farmland birds visit the RSPB website.
Woodlands and Hedgerows
All the farm woodlands have been surveyed and an active management programme is under way. Three hectares of new woodland have been planted with the help of the Farm Woodland Premium Scheme. An extensive programme of hedgerow improvement and establishment including coppicing, laying and replanting with associated grassland margins is being undertaken.
The willow trees on the banks of the River Thames are being pollarded in rotation.
All fields adjacent to water courses are buffered by at least a six meter grass margin, as are many of the hedgerows. Many of these are established by natural regeneration, with many being floristically enhanced.
As part of the ELS / HLS scheme started in 2014 an otter holt was constructed adjacent to the bank of the River Thames. There are also traditional meadows and an orchard on the farm which are managed in a traditional low input way.