Are you looking to understand more about biodiversity and how you can help wildlife and pollinating insects on your farm thrive? Then here is a summary of some great FAS resources to help you build an understanding.
Scottish Wildlife Trust is working with more than 40 partners, including two farms, along the Ayrshire coast to connect a ’superhighway’ of nectar and pollen-rich sites for wild pollinators. The Irvine to Girvan Nectar Network will help to ensure the long-term survival of pollinating insects in the area.
The first farm, Low Pinmore Farm in Maybole, has been re-laying hedges to stock proof fields. Not only can this support a wealth of wildlife, but it provides shelter and shade to livestock – improving animal welfare. The importance of hedgerows in capturing and storing carbon is also becoming increasingly recognised.
Are you looking to find out more about how you could manage your hedgerows better? Then check out our practical guides, videos and technical notes on the FAS website - Hedgerow Management | Biodiversity | Farm Advisory Service (fas.scot)
Meanwhile, Balsar Glen in Turnberry has been trialling an Ayrshire-specific wildflower seed mix along with adaptive multi-paddock grazing techniques with its Aberdeen Angus and Hereford cattle to enable species-rich grassland species to flourish. Diverse grasslands support a wealth of wildlife above and below ground, supporting complex interactions between plants, microbes and nutrients. Different plant species also vary in how they respond to environmental change, with some thriving in dry conditions and others in wetter conditions. This means diverse swards are better able to withstand drought and flooding.
Heather Close from Balsar Glen explained “We outwinter our cows and while we take great care to minimise poaching, it’s not possible to completely avoid it in our wet climate. As nature would have it, poached areas are perfect germination sites for wildflowers as there is less competition from grasses. So, using animal impact to our advantage, we’ve hand sewn some of the Nectar Network’s wildflower seed mix on these areas.
“These wildflowers are not only vital for pollinators but are useful forage for the cattle. Some are nitrogen fixers, others reduce worm burden, many have deep roots and each plant has a different mineral profile. This diversity enables the cows to freely select plants that will meet their nutritional needs at a particular point in time.”
If you are intrigued by this then check out our video and related resources under Species Rich Grassland Management - Species-Rich Grasslands | Information helping farmers in Scotland | Farm Advisory Service (fas.scot)
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