Hedgerow and ditch policy.
On our farms we have many miles of hedgerows and ditches. With careful management these provide a valuable habitat for lots of wildlife. They also provide “nature corridors” linking woods and ponds together.
Our hedges are cut once every two years to allow fruiting and growth. This ensures half of our hedges carry wild fruits and berries through the winter to help wild birds. When we do cut our hedges it is done late in the season to ensure nesting time is over. We also leave verges and tracks uncut to allow wildflowers to grow. This then provides an ideal environment for insects and the wildlife which relies on them. English Partridge are a common site on our tracks as the verges and adjacent hedgerows provide many insects and cover for them and their chicks.
Every year in the Winter we fill in gaps in hedgerows with new plantings, and we have a plan in place to plant new hedges on field boundaries.
Most of our ditches are protected by a 7 metre buffer strip each side. This is uncultivated and is left to regenerate with natural grasses and wild flowers. These have proved very valuable to reptile, mammal and bird life. Barn owls hunt these areas at night and on warm days grass snakes are often seen basking nearby.
For drainage purposes we clean ditches out, but by ensuring this work is carried out during Winter it minimises the impact on wildlife and allows the ditch banks to regenerate in the following Spring.