New report shows nature-friendly farmers boost recovery

© Paul Harris/2020VISION

Local farm wildlife plans help cereal growers devote 30% of land to nature.

A group of over 40 cereal farmers in Hertfordshire and across the UK are proving that it is possible to help nature recover and make a profit. A new report from The Wildlife Trusts shows how locally tailor-made farm wildlife plans, devised by Wildlife Trust advisors with each farmer, are helping wildlife recover.

In 2018, Jordans oat growers farmed over 15,500 hectares, providing almost 4,600 hectares for wildlife. Birds such as linnets, butterflies like the silver-washed fritillary, and brown hares are returning to farms in the Jordans Farm Partnership; nature is thriving in their hedgerows, field margins and ponds, creating vital corridors to enable wild animals to spread out and move through the landscape.  

Stephanie Hilborne, CEO, The Wildlife Trusts says: 

“We are hugely impressed with the commitment of these cereal farmers to support wildlife and the environment, which will benefit generations to come. They are playing an important role in nature’s recovery. We hope other farmers will take inspiration from them and follow their lead; it shows that farming that works with nature makes sense. The Jordans Farm Partnership demonstrates we don’t have to choose between wildlife and profitable food production.”

The Jordans Farm Partnership demonstrates we don’t have to choose between wildlife and profitable food production.
Stephanie Hilborne
The Wildlife Trusts

Stephanie Hilborne continues: “Our new report comes at a critical time for agriculture.  We live in one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world and as over 70% of our land is farmed, The Wildlife Trusts want to see farmers properly rewarded for creating and restoring habitats. Successful farms need thriving wildlife because crops depend on pollination, natural pest control and healthy soils – all these underpin our ability to grow food into the future.”

Each of the 42 farms in the Jordans partnership works with an expert advisor from their local Wildlife Trust and has a bespoke plan to support wildlife, focussing on key species and habitats which are important to the farm’s local landscape.

Cover crops are sown to provide winter food for farmland birds, winter stubble is also left in fields for corn bunting, linnet and tree sparrow. Long grass has been allowed to grow around field edges, encouraging voles to thrive and provide good hunting grounds for barn owls. Grass margins also support insects which feed on crop pests. Insect larvae are food for partridge, lapwing and yellowhammer chicks.

The partnership is not only proving beneficial for wildlife but the farmers themselves. Guy Tucker farms 219 hectares at Greenhill Farm, Hertfordshire. A third-generation farmer, he wanted to give back to the landscape that’s given his family a livelihood for decades. He started supporting wildlife on his land back in 2003, so it was a natural step to join the Jordans Farm Partnership. 

I am a happier person as I see wildlife increasing on the farm. My father ploughed up hedges, but I’m planting them.
Guy Tucker
Greenhill Farm

Guy Tucker says:

“I am a happier person as I see wildlife increasing on the farm.  My father ploughed up hedges, but I’m planting them. Through the JFP conservation scheme, the input of Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust ecologist, Matt Dodds, has been invaluable, targeting improvements for species that are relevant to this area, in a practical and achievable way.”

Guy has planted wildflower areas for crucial pollinators like bees and other insects, and following a farmland bird survey, he was delighted to discover earlier this year that his farm boasted the largest flock of linnets, and bramblings recorded in Hertfordshire. This is particularly impressive given that linnets are on the ‘red list’ and in severe decline in England.

Paul Murphy, CEO Jordans Dorset Ryvita Company said:

“The Jordans brand has a long-standing commitment to nature and our work supporting conservation in the British countryside dates back over 30 years. We are immensely proud of the Jordans Farm Partnership and the positive impact it is having on much-loved farm species such as owls, hares and bats. It is endlessly gratifying to see the passion and devotion our growers have shown to developing habitats and species on their farms and this report is a testament to what they have achieved.”

It is endlessly gratifying to see the passion and devotion our growers have shown to developing habitats and species on their farms and this report is a testament to what they have achieved.
Paul Murphy
Jordans Dorset Ryvita

Water, as well as land, is part of the farm plans. Waterways are protected by six-metre buffer strips to help prevent fertilizer and pesticides from entering channels and keep freshwater habitats clean. This is good for wildlife and for people too - it means our drinking water needs less treatment.

The new Jordans Farm Partnership / The Wildlife Trusts’ impact report shows how Jordans farmers are working for wildlife throughout the UK across a diverse range of habitats: 768 km of hedgerow, 485 ha of field margins, 954 ha of woodland, 131 km of waterways and 94 ponds. 

All JFP farms are also members of LEAF Marque, a farm assurance system which promotes food grown sustainably with care for the environment. Farms also work towards conserving and creating healthy soil.

Further information

For more information or to speak to a member of Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, please contact Frieda Rummenhohl, Communications Officer, at Frieda.Rummenhohl@hmwt.org on 01727 858901 ext 228.