With increasing numbers of endangered and extinct species, it’s extremely important to highlight the great work members are doing to help conserve the planet and wildlife on their farms.
Find out what NFU member Peter Shallcross is doing on his farm in the Nadder Valley to maintain and increase the diversity of wildlife on his farm.
World Wildlife Day Case Study – Peter Shallcross
NFU South Wiltshire chairman, Peter Shallcross, has been farming in Wiltshire since 1995, starting with 300 outdoor pigs on a rented farm before coming home to the family farm that extends to 900 acres with a predominant dairy focus.
Situated in the Nadder Valley, within the Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the farm has a variety of soil types with Kimmeridge clay on the valley bottom and sandy loam towards the top of the valley, lending themselves to grass growth and some arable crops.
The variety in soil type can make management variable with some areas of the farm susceptible to drought and others flooding.
Grassland is rejuvenated as required by slot seeding herbs. In some circumstances, Peter has found that this technique can be more sustainable than traditional ryegrass-based lays. The farm is also reaping the benefits of having an annual nutrient management plan which enables precise applications of fertilisers and use only of the nutrients the land and crops require.
The farming enterprise is a part of several Countryside Stewardship (CS) schemes and is also part of an Environmental Land Management (ELMs) test and trial pilot, working with facilitators to quantify the natural capital of the farm.
Peter says: “As part of the CS scheme, the farm boasts a host of wildlife-friendly aspects, including flower and grass margins, beetle banks, rare arable plant margins, hedgerows, arable reversion into flower meadows along with supplementary feeding for birds, nectar and pollen mixes and we have also field corners that are out of production.”
Efforts to cater for wildlife have paid off, with several pairs of lapwings nesting in the ground-nesting bird plot. Peter continues: “Following this success, I established a dew pond to provide water in an otherwise dry area. Subsequently, frogs, yellow wagtails and reed buntings are now a regular feature.”
Having a keen interest in butterflies, Peter joined with a group of like-minded people to introduce Dutch elm disease- resistant elm trees back to the landscape, a vital food source for the white-letter hairstreak butterfly. This species declined dramatically in the 1970s when its food plants were reduced by Dutch elm disease, but with work from these groups and individuals, is now recovering in a several areas.
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