We are eager to help our feathered friends, not just because we care; birds are important predators, and therefore help the farm by controlling potential pests like snails and greenfly.
Organic farming has an important role to play in a number of ways:
- no herbicides means more wild plants within the crop, which means more wild seed and insect food
- avoidance of animal medication means cleaner dung which feeds multitudes of insects who are then food for birds
- fertility created by clovers is held in the soil ecosysem better than chemical fertilisers, which means more soil life to eat
- naturally balanced fertilisation of soil using legumes and compost helps to conserve arable wildflowers like poppies, which add to the food sources for species such as Skylark, Yellowhammer and Grey Partridge
- Crop rotations and temporary grass leys ensures grassland and crops are interspersed, providing a range of habitats for nesting and feeding birds
We have established large areas of special habitat to provide shelter and food all year round. Environmental Stewardship programmes encourage bird-friendly measures such as overwinter stubble, fallows, sown strips of wildflowers, and careful hedge management. All of which is second nature to organic farmers but these schemes actively encourage conventional farmers to do more for wildlife with these schemes.
Advice on farmland bird conservation
We have been very lucky to work with dedicated surveyors and volunteers from the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) and the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology). Together, they have provided Sheepdrove Organic Farm with detailed bird surveys and on-farm visits to come up with ideas on how best to support our bird life.
Special target species - those in most need - included Stone Curlew (special nesting plots created), Corn Bunting (management of some areas altered to suit) and Grey Partridge (bird seed mix, conservation headlands and lots of rough grass margins).