How to build a Living Landscape on farmland
Farming is such an important land use in Hertfordshire. Farmers are the stewards of the majority of our local ecosystems. There are lots of opportunities to restore nature and agri-environment funding schemes are available to help.
Wildflower-rich field margins
Native wildflowers and grasses along field margins will support a diversity of crop-pollinating insects and allow whole ecosystems to thrive. Six to ten metre wide strips are ideal. It's important to link margins up between fields, to make habitat corridors. The margins are best planted with a native wildflower seed mix appropriate to the area and soil types.
Hedgerows, particularly in association with other habitats, can make great wildlife corridors. Thicker, taller hedges with regular trees provide the most benefits. Where hedges have gaps a mixture of native tree planting and traditional hedge-laying can restore them. As well as providing shelter, hedgerows act like a larder for all sorts of wildlife: nectar in the spring supports butterflies and other insects, while berries help small mammals and birds such as redwings and fieldfares through the winter months.
Habitat creation on poor soils
Reverting arable land back to species-rich grassland can be a way of achieving grant income for fields with poor crop productivity. The most valuable grasslands are made up of species native to the area and take into account the local soil and drainage conditions.
Buffer strips along rivers
Buffer zones of longer vegetation between farmed land and rivers prevent erosion of the river banks by livestock and pollution of the river water from livestock urine and faeces. A buffer zone also helps to prevent herbicides, pesticides and fertilisers from draining off fields into the river. Otters, water voles and other aquatic and bankside wildlife will benefit. Buffer strips can be provided either by fencing or by leaving three metres unploughed next to the river bank. Where cattle need to access the river, concrete 'drinkers' can be installed to prevent soil erosion.
For a full list of practical ideas to help wildlife on farmland, download our guide How to build a Living Landscape.