Sam and Becky Newington, Limden Brook Organic 2/3

What you do to encourage biodiversity and connections across the farm and beyond

Rotational grazing has been the key to this biodiversity for us.  The ability to leave longer rest periods between grazing, thereby allowing time for plants and grasses to flower allows wildlife to make use of the different paddocks at different stages of recovery to meet their needs.

Being able to control the areas the cows graze allows them to be used as management tools within the system. By increasing the stocking density when needed they can help to control weeds or when the ground is wet paddock sizes can be increased to stop poaching.

Hay meadow paddock grazing

Bale grazing in the snow

Snowy cows

We have attempted some direct drilling of herbal ley mix, but without a huge amount of success! In general we want to decrease the amount of large machinery on the fields to reduce compaction of the soil, so for us attempting to assist the creation of a healthy ecosystem with what wants to naturally grow has become our goal. We want to be able to manage the land to benefit the animals and the environment but we acknowledge that quite often nature is the best at deciding what will grow and where!  

With this in mind we have started to try to protect tree saplings that we find already growing in our grazing system rather than importing trees and we have trialled cutting some willow whips of our own and planting them along our permanent electric fences.  We have also implemented some conservation style hedgelaying using the cut material to create extra cover and habitat within the laid hedge.

Conservation hedgelaying

We would like to have some management control over some of the woodland at some time in the future.  We would love to trial using cattle as a management tool within the woodland and to use as shelter or a living barn for our animals over winter.  We are also aware that we have some amazing bird life on our borders that are probably dwindling in numbers and which could have their habitat improved or created with different management.  The parcels of land we farm all join each other fairly neatly at least via woodland or by crossing small roads.   The rivers are mostly bordered with trees or scrub allowing wildlife corridors to exist. To a larger extent we neighbour another Organic farm with similar practices to ourselves and neighbouring them is another Organic Dairy.

Deer control plays an important part in protecting biodiversity for us locally.  Without this we have large numbers of deer that stay in one area and eat the re-growth on pasture land and on trees and hedgerows, effectively overgrazing areas and creating loss of habitat.