Working with Nature
Scattered acoss the landscape as if painted by an artist, colourful wild flowers adorn our crops and pasture and we believe that's a sign of good farming. A crop field should be healthy and diverse ecosystem.
When soil is full of life it holds onto fertility and water and uses nutrients efficiently. That is good for farmers and for the environment.
Flowers are supporting farmland birdsBelow ground, a mass of root activity provides habitat for things like fungi, worms and springtails. Above ground, each plant supports its own range of passengers - tiny beetles, caterpillars and bugs. All this wild food helps farmland birds such as Grey Partridge, Lapwing, Linnet, Yellowhammer, Corn Bunting, Meadow Pipit and Skylark.
The benefit for nature is a major reason for us to farm ecologically. As organic farmers we don't spray chemicals to kill off wild plants - we actually want them here to provide homes and feeding stations for insect predators that can then control crop pests like aphids. The plant and flower diversity around the edges of the fields and in the crop understory each have a vital role to play.
Rare farmland plants return to SheepdroveCommon poppies are bold, bright and stand out a mile during June and July. But amongst them we might also find quite rare flowers. Unusual arable plants here include Field Gromwell, Prickly Poppy, Cornflower, Venus's-Looking Glass, Dense-flowered Fumitory and Dwarf Spurge.
These little gems are part of the living heritage from ages of farming, which provides the right conditions for these plants. Because of the excellent diversity, Sheepdrove Organic Farm is a site of UK-level importance for arable flora conservation.
Habitats for helpful wildlifeWe are very keen on rough grass, and if you visit Sheepdrove you will see plenty of unmown grass all year around. Rough grass and hedges on the field margins and along the byways connect to become a network of corridors for wildlife.
Rough grass is vital for Barn Owls and Kestrels, birds who hunt this type of habitat for small mammals, especially Short-tailed Voles, a favourite food. Nest boxes alone are no good if you do not conserve habitat to support their prey. Tussocky grass cover is essential for ground-nesters such as Yellowhammer and Grey Partridge.
Matted tussocks of grass in the unploughed field margins are also vital hibernation sites for many minibeasts; including spiders, specialist aphid-hunting wasps and the great predatory group called ground beetles. The are each adapted in a different way and together they prey on a vast range of potential pests, ranging from slugs and snails to caterpillars and aphids.
If you love wildflowers, please support our organic, no-spray farming.
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