Will Mann, Oxleaze Farm 2/3

What do you do to encourage this biodiversity

Having begun farming in the mid-70s when production-at-all-costs was the mantra, we embarked on the original Countryside Stewardship scheme in 1996 and have progressively embraced conservation since then, converting to organic in 2007 with some financial support but would not look back now.

  • As from 2021 there is no ploughing carried out on the farm, to keep the carbon locked up.  
  • There are 35 acres of species-rich semi natural grasslands (equivalent to 17 football pitches) and 14 hectares of wild bird mixture. 
  • We are currently adding a diverse array of 14 different deep-rooting herbs and a variety of different grasses.
  • We have planted 30,000 new trees and 26,000 hedging plants as a long-term project to encourage both carbon sequestration and biodiversity.
  • Our hedgerows, shrubbery and wild bird mixes support a wide range of birds, butterflies, bees, bugs and insects as described in (2) above. 
  • Our cattle have not been wormed or drenched since 1983, which has the knock-on benefit of encouraging several different species of dung beetles.
Swift nesting boxes

We have moved from wrapped silage to round-baled hay which has two advantages.  It reduces the amount of plastic we use, and by making hay later in the season this enables seed fall to provide both food for birds and seeds to regenerate the pastures. 

  • We are currently adding a diverse array of deep-rooting herbs and a variety of different grasses.
  • We have planted 30,000 new trees, and 26,000 hedging plants.
  • Using the Mid-tier, we are feeding 6 tonnes of wild bird mix to cover the ‘Hungry gap’. 
  • Expanses of woodland for cricket bat willows, firewood, and woodchip
  • A glorious Cotswold Garden, alive with bird song throughout the day, open to visitors who are encouraged to take on board the whole farm ethos.
Cotswold Garden
  • Three hives of bees producing honey from the organic meadows and pollinating the soft fruits and vegetables in the garden
  • Oxleaze Farm holds membership and accreditation with the leading associations for organic farming and conservation to ensure welfare of our animals.

This approach underlines the benefits of Pasture-Fed animals to the wider environment and food chain.

How is it connected across the farm and beyond?

  • We plan our cropping and tree planting to provide long-term habitats for local, and endangered species, such as voles, lapwings, barn owls, our woods are linked to our neighbours, helping to create wildlife corridors throughout the area. After being established for such a long period, we are now seeing species such as the pyramidal orchard beginning to emerge. 
  • The fields that the cattle graze are left for hay making for the summer months, allowing the local wildlife space to survive and thrive. 
Haymaking Woodland surrounding pasture
  • Hedges are allowed to grow tall and wide and cut on a three-year cycle, to provide the cattle shelter from sun, wind and rain.  Fallen dead wood is left on the ground. 
  • 4 acres of Poplars are coppiced on a 4-year rotation and cricket-bat willows have been planted alongside the River Leach, providing a very useful income every thirty years once they reach maturity.