8,000m x 3m of new thicket-hedgerow habitat
And 3,000m to go !
Some feat !We started planting on the farm (including hedgerows into two neighbouring farms), with the help of a hedge-planter (works like a vegetable planter), in mid-November and completed by the end of March. Thats 48,000 native hedgerow species and small trees – all flower and fruit bearing. We had some wonderful hard-core volunteers who helped us put in the hours. The hedge planter was modified to also roll the biodegradable weed suppressing mulch as we planted (which didn’t like windy days !). The mulch suppresses the weeds sufficiently to enable the hedgerow plants to start their growth without being completely covered by grass. Rows have required fencing to protect from cattle, roe deer, hare and rabbit browsing with netting and where we were unable to fence both sides we have used biodegradable tree-shelters.
What we see now is a new landscape field pattern where we have split fields which have never had hedgerows and renewed old boundaries. Our 27 x 20 ac field-farm is now a 45 x 10 ac field-farm. The pattern fits in well with our cattle grazing short-rotation system and will provide options for future enterprises. The new hedgerow-thicket matrix provides wide interconnecting rows with verges full of grasses and flowers for pollinators and seed eating birds. As the roots grow and penetrate deeper into the soil they will bind the soil and enhance soil biodiversity and draw-down carbon.This coming winter will see the completion of the project with the planting of the final 3,000m – that’s 11,000m (11kms !), of new farmland habitat…. more native species; more birds; more pollinators and other insects (and maybe even see hedgehogs back on the farm), better soil condition, more soil organic carbon – and altogether much enhanced agroecological function. With grateful thanks to the Scottish Government’s Nature Restoration Fund.