Agri-Environmental Farm Management
Land managers are under increasing pressure to deliver more from the land they manage. Long gone are the days when farmers only had to produce food. Now they must balance food production with multiple other goals, from nutrient and carbon budgeting to protecting watercourses from diffuse pollution, all at the same time as conserving farmland wildlife. Agri-environmental management practices can help farmers achieve a wide range of benefits from the land they manage in harmony with food production. Adopting more environmentally-friendly farming practices can also help ensure long-term economic and environmental sustainability.
Many environmentally friendly management practices are targeted to enhance farmland for birds and beneficial insects. Farmland birds not only bring our countryside alive with colour and song but also disperse seeds and can help keep pest species at bay. Being highly visual, birds can be an important indicator of farmland health.
Beneficial insects provide many ecosystem services that agricultural production relies upon. For example:
- Insect pollination enhances the yield and quality of many flowering crops including oilseed rape, apples, and field beans.
- Natural predation by predatory species such as ground beetles, spiders and ladybirds can help to reduce pest outbreaks and limit the need for insecticide applications.
- Decomposition and bioturbation by a range of soil-dwelling bacteria, fungi, and invertebrates. Collectively these organisms help to break down organic matter and recycle nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen.
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